Anishinaabe Studies BA One Step Closer to Reality at SKG

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Algoma University’s Senate unanimously approved a proposal from Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and the Department of Modern Languages to create a 3-year General Bachelor of Arts in Anishinaabe Studies on Friday, Dec. 4th. The vote is a significant milestone in a years-long effort to develop a degree program focused on the history and worldview of Anishinaabe peoples. The proposal is now being prepared for submission to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to begin the Ministerial consent process.

The Anishinaabe Studies program explores the enduring history of Anishinaabe, the original peoples of this part of the world. Through a culture-based curriculum, students learn Anishinaabe history, philosophy and worldview, experiencing and exploring the importance of self-knowledge and the ways in which knowledge creates pathways for interpersonal and intercultural respect.

Through the program, students develop an understanding of the relatively recent influence of colonization, consequential social issues, and significant contemporary movements in Anishinaabe society. They will further develop broad cross-cultural understanding and experience both traditional and contemporary Anishinaabe research methodologies.

The program will be jointly offered by Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and Algoma University.

Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig President, Darrell Boissoneau, said on the occasion, “we are extremely excited that Senate has given the green light to advance our proposal for a BA in Anishinaabe Studies.”

Referring to the legacy of the elder 19th century Garden River Chief Shingwauk, Boissoneau continued, “Algoma University sits on the site of a former residential school where many of our grandmothers and grandfathers attended. It is only right and appropriate that the legacy of Chief Shingwauk’s Vision of quality and culture-based education be embedded into the academic offerings on this sacred place. Having Anishinaabe Studies as a degree program opens the door for both Anishinaabe and non-Anishinaabe critical thinkers from all over.”

Garden River Chief, Paul Syrette also expressed, “the overwhelming support from Algoma University Senate to approve the Anishinaabe Studies program is consistent with Chief Shingwauk’s Vision and the Call to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings.

“In both Anishinaabe cultural based education and in mainstream postsecondary education, universities such as Algoma and Shingwauk are at the forefront in shaping the future of our relationship and transforming Anishinaabe critical thinking within the academy.” Syrette continued, “We are glad to see that our patience is beginning to pay off.”

The proposal now goes to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities where it will be assessed for its fit within the Ontario system. The Minister can then refer the application to the Post-secondary Education Quality Assessment Board, an arms-length advisory agency that advises the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities of Ontario on applications for new post-secondary programs.

The program was crafted by a number of Anishinaabe scholars, chief among them Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig Academic and Spiritual Advisor, and Grand Chief of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge, Dr. Eddie Benton-Banai.

Anishinaabe Studies courses have been offered jointly between Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and Algoma University since 2006 as elective credits. Courses currently on offer include Anishinaabe Peoples & Our Homelands, Anishinaabe Social Issues, Anishinaabe Social Movements, Government Acts & Policies, and Treaties, among other options.

The program was accredited in 2012 by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium, which represents indigenous-controlled post-secondary programs and education institutions across the globe.