Indigenous Course Requirement Approved For 2016-17 School Year

UWinnipeg graduates will have a baseline knowledge about Indigenous people and culture, thanks to the new Indigenous Course Requirement (ICR), which was unanimously approved today by The University of Winnipeg Senate, the body responsible for UWinnipeg’s academic governance. The decision exemplifies the University’s leadership in responding to the recommendations made in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

UWinnipeg is one of the first universities in the country to mandate that all students will learn about Indigenous peoples. Previously approved in principle, the ICR will make Indigenous learning part of the undergraduate degree requirements for all new students, beginning in the fall of 2016. Graduation requirements for existing UWinnipeg students will not be affected.

To fulfill the requirement, students may choose from a number of 3 credit-hour courses in which the greater part of the content is local Indigenous material — derived from or based on an analysis of the cultures, languages, history, ways of knowing or contemporary reality of the Indigenous peoples of North America.

The number of credit hours required to graduate will not change. The ICR proposal was originally brought forth in February by The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) and the Aboriginal Students’ Council, in consultation with the University’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

“This is a proud, joyous, and historic day for The University of Winnipeg community,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, UWinnipeg President & Vice-Chancellor. “We recognize our responsibility to commit to the TRC recommendations and today’s decision by our faculty effectively implements a good number of them. We have taken an important step to integrate Indigenous knowledge, perspectives, and worldview into our curricula and culture.”

“Education plays a huge role in advancing reconciliation. In every field, from science to business to education, engaging with First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples is the new reality in this country. I’m very proud to say our students will be better prepared for that environment and that will be a competitive advantage for them,” said Wab Kinew, Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs.

In the coming months, a full list of courses that qualify for the ICR will be determined by academic departments for selection by new students who register for the 2016-17 school year.


Kevin Rosen, Executive Director, Marketing & Communications
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Click here for FAQ on the Indigenous Course Requirement

Click here to read the Globe and Mail commentary published December 10, 2015

*With the unanimous approval by UWinnipeg Senate of the Indigenous Course Requirement (IRC), The University of Winnipeg has responded, at least in part, to ten of the Calls to Action from the TRC report, as follows. This includes UWinnipeg students who are on pre-med and pre-law trajectories.

14) We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incor­porates the following principles:i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.

ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.

iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.

iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.

v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.

24) We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of res­idential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

27) We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown rela­tions. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict reso­lution, human rights, and anti-racism.

28) We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

60) We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theol­ogy, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsi­bility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

62) We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:i. Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory educa­tion requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.

ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

iii. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowl­edge and teaching methods in classrooms.

Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education.

63) We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:i. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.

ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residen­tial schools and Aboriginal history.

iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

86) We call upon Canadian journalism programs and media schools to require edu­cation for all students on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.

90) We call upon the federal government to ensure that national sports policies, pro­grams, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples, including, but not limited to, establishing:i. In collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, stable funding for, and access to, community sports programs that reflect the diverse cultures and traditional sporting activities of Aboriginal peoples.

ii. An elite athlete development program for Aboriginal athletes.

iii. Programs for coaches, trainers, and sports officials that are culturally relevant for Aboriginal peoples.

iv. Anti-racism awareness and training programs.

92) We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtain­ing the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.

ii. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and edu­cation opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.

iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peo­ples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.



  • Glenda Clarke said...

    This is wonderful news! The U of Winnipeg can lead the way for other Education bodies in Canada

  • Jana said...

    I’m not against this, but I do wish that there were more relevant courses that would actually lead to positive influence, and change towards reaching some of these goals. I don’t think that taking a Native language class, or a Native arts class is going to foster understanding, or combat racism. Native history classes that focus on Canadian aboriginal peoples, and Canada’s treatment of these groups may help foster understanding, but they still won’t help to directly provide skill sets that equip students to help deal with modern social problems resulting from that history.

    I think that it’s completely logical that a Native studies course be a requirement for medicine, law, and politics. Frankly any business, or profession could benefit from understanding. However, looking at the courses offered at the UoW, I don’t think they really have courses that would help with that.

    I think that if there was a standardized 3-6 credit hour course that focused on understanding the context community interactions with aboriginal populations, there would be a lot of benefit with that. Such a course could broaden the scope of topics covered to include real and practical skills that are fleshed out by understanding the historical context of aboriginal peoples in Canada and abroad.

    Learning about Native American history can foster understanding. However, in our cultural climate, any skill that people feel they are forced to learn that they can’t see an immediate use for will become resentful against it and polarize. That’s not just for social studies courses, people get angry against math courses and hate learning it, even though basic math skills are very important in most professions.

    If such a course focused on cultural issues that affect, and can benefit modern day businesses, politics, law, medicine, and social interactions ect. All the while drawing heavily on Canadian examples of modern day interactions with Native American communities, then I think that would be beneficial. This way practical applications could be addressed, and nay sayers wouldn’t be able to claim that this is just a “PC” move resulting from a knee jerk reaction to the McClain’s article on Winnipeg.

    This course, or courses could offer practical skills, and understanding on how business can be ethically conducted while working with Aboriginal communities not only in North America, but in other countries as well ie) Australia, Japan, Norway ect. They could also focus on how being ignorant towards laws, culture, interactions ect. with Native communities can/have not only lead to moral dilemmas, but have also been examples of poor business that have lost money for those going into business, poor patient care for those going into medicine, and poor policies and social unrest for those going into politics.

    I for one would take a course such as that even if it wasn’t a requirement. I think that such a course would logically be able to count as a business credit that counted towards the required aboriginal studies requirement.

    I just think that if something is going to be a course requirement, than it should be required to offer real skill sets that are relevant to your degree and career path. Understanding the culture that we live in is important, but historical, art and cultural classes just don’t offer those themselves. They hold information that could be used by a motivated person to carry forward into other practical areas, however, that requires further motivation from students who may not all be motivated.

    If the UoW is going to be a forerunner in this. I think a good first step would be to show that students graduating that hold these requirements are valuable in the job market because these courses offer skill sets that make them more competent, and competitive in a multicultural society. That these courses not only make them more useful in opening up markets in Native American communities, but in other communities as well across the globe and at home.