Reporting to the Dean of Education, the Director of Indigenous Initiatives will work to support the field of indigenous education as a field of study and practice. The Director will uphold the University of Manitoba’s vision for advancing indigenous achievement by positively affecting teaching, research and service that is relevant to the field of indigenous education. Through engagement with internal and external advisory groups, scholars, partner organizations, and indigenous peoples across Canada and abroad, the director will strive to enhance initial teacher education, in-service teacher professional development, and graduate studies and research.
SCOPE OF THE ROLE
Finally, we acknowledge one another…we give greetings and thanks that we have this opportunity to spend some time together. We turn our minds to our ancestors and our Elders. You are the carriers of knowledge, of our history. We acknowledge the adults among us. You represent the bridge between the past and the future. We also acknowledge our youth and children. It is to you that we will pass on the responsibilities we now carry. Soon, you will take our place in facing the challenges of life. Soon, you will carry the burden of your people. Do not forget the ways of the past as you move toward the future. Remember that we are to walk softly on our sacred Mother, the Earth for we walk on the faces of the unborn, those who have yet to rise and take up the challenges of existence. We must consider the effects our actions will have on their ability to live a good life.
- Kanatiio, Kanesatakeronnon (RCAP, 1996)
Many faculties and colleges of education in Canada have created space in their teacher development programs for indigenous education. A perceived need for culturally relevant pedagogical training that facilitates the development of aptitudes and skills necessary for the delivery of indigenous content has lead to the appointment of faculty and other staff with backgrounds in this area. Many institutions have developed elective and compulsory courses to support teacher development in the area of indigenous education. School districts and community groups have begun to appreciate the need for undergraduate teacher education and in-service professional development that provides opportunities to explore indigenous education. The value for the integration of indigenous perspectives in primary and secondary school programming has informed school district programming, ministerial requirements for graduates of teacher education programs and curricular development, and priorities for faculties and colleges of education. For some, indigenous education is education for indigenous students. For others, indigenous education is education for all students, and indigenous perspectives can provide an important set of views on the world in which we live in and the people with whom we share that world. It would appear that it is the latter that encapsulates the spirit of trans-cultural understanding and celebration.
With the development of the field of indigenous education have emerged opportunities for large numbers of indigenous teachers to enter the teaching profession with a learned knowledge of indigenous content and pedagogies. Although primary, secondary and post-secondary education has been the professional home of many educators of indigenous background, the genesis of these opportunities may be, in part, associated with equitable representation that is commensurate with the proportion of indigenous students in Manitoba and elsewhere.
Developments such as these have informed the forthcoming establishment of an indigenous initiatives office in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education. It is hoped that this office will support initiatives in the area of indigenous education. Essential to this office will be guidance from stakeholders internal and external to the Faculty of Education. Collectively, we can affect the quality of indigenous education in our faculty and beyond through consideration of things as contemporary scholarship, internal and external needs, desires and initiatives, and cooperation with interested parties.