Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Strategic Approach of Indigenization

By Vanessa Tait, 2nd year MDP student

On November 2015, the University of Winnipeg approved and mandated that all students are required to have a baseline knowledge about Indigenous peoples and perspectives. Dr. Hugh Grant and Dean Sylvie Albert asked me to begin developing a strategic approach on how to incorporate the concept of Indigenization within the Faculty of Business and Economics as part of my domestic MDP field placement.   

Vanessa Tait at the Faculty of Business and Economics
Dr. Grant taught me a graduate course titled Indigenous Economic Development where we first engaged in discussions on Indigenous business and economics. It became evident that Indigenous content was missing not only in the areas of business and economics at the UWinnipeg but also within many other spaces.  
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified the need to eliminate the educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. At all levels of education this requires higher attainment rates, culturally-appropriate curricula, community involvement and the respect and honouring of Treaty relationships. At the post-secondary level, it highlighted the shortfall in funding to support the participation of Indigenous students.   

Jessica Dumas (L), Hanwakan Whitecloud (Top),
 Sarah Cook (Bottom) and Vanessa Tait (R)

I stated to the many people I met along the way that it is time that our story as Indigenous peoples be included in the curricula and I hope that Indigenous youth and people soon fill more seats at the University and within the Faculty of Business and Economics.  We have been a part of the economy and have many successful businesses.  The institution cannot miss the boat in being inclusive and it needs to stop excluding us and looking at Indigenous content and knowledge as inferior. 

The roundtable discussion circle that we hosted invited both internal and external members.  Facilitating and leading this discussion circle was a wonderful experience, and I am grateful for all those that took the time to come and join the important conversation.  There was a lot of great dialogue and this is just the beginning of many more discussions.
I hope to continue this journey with the Faculty of Business and Economics as there is a lot more research, dialogue, and learning to be completed.  The ripple effects of this field placement will be amazing, as my experience and the initial field report and information gathered is the beginning of a much larger process. 

(L-R) Dean Sylvie Albert, Vanessa Tait, Dr. Hugh Grant
I learned so much during from the many discussions I had during this placement. To take the lead and to be given such an amazing opportunity that will assist in my future journeys has been humbling. I am proud to be part of the process. I would like to thank Dr. Grant for believing in my expertise and giving me the space to conduct research, set the stage for discussion and offer recommendations for Indigenizing the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Winnipeg.  Thank you to Dean Albert, Faculty Assistant Rachel Hammerback, and the Faculty of Business and Economics for hosting me for my Canadian Field Placement.  I hope to continue into the implementation process of this journey towards Indigenization, or at least see some of the recommendations incorporated. 
Ekosi - Kinanaskomitinawaw

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