Kwantlen Polytechnic University will launch an Indigenous studies program this fall. (Wikimedia Commons)

Kwantlen university announces new Indigenous studies program

‘First of its kind’ for university, which borrows its name from the Kwantlen First Nation

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) will launch an Indigenous studies program this fall, a new minor program with a focus on community and justice.

The announcement was made on National Aboriginal Day (June 21).

The program is the first of its kind for Kwantlen, a university that borrows its name from the Kwantlen First Nation.

“My hope is that this minor will play a role in honouring, acknowledging, and respecting Indigenous peoples,” said criminology instructor Dr. Lisa Monchalin. “Canada is Indigenous land, it always has been, and it always will be.”

The courses are taught by Indigenous instructors, using teaching techniques such as learning through experiences, oral tradition and sharing circle learning.

Monchalin, who developed the program, is of Algonquin, Métis, Huron and Scottish descent. She said the minor is intended to provide its students with a greater understanding and awareness of Indigenous communities, justice issues and culture.

“There is an urgent need for awareness and capability regarding Indigenous justice issues in an array of professions, particularly in service delivery, education, economics, geography, and criminal justice,” said Dr. Diane Purvey, arts faculty dean.

“Completing this minor will open new doors to employment for students wanting to work respectfully and effectively with Indigenous peoples and communities,” said Purvey.

According to a KPU press release, “Students will be encouraged to challenge false assumptions, identify the impact of colonialism, and explore systemic and institutional racism and the impact of European influence on Indigenous life, cultures, and languages. Students will also critically assess government and corporate intrusion on Indigenous rights and lands, and Indigenous people’s collective resistance and activism.”

The program includes history, anthropology, sociology, lingustics and criminology courses from “Racialization and Ethnicity in Canada” to “First Peoples, Public Policy in Canadian and Global Contexts.”