Helen Friesen

Title: We Are All Relations: An Indigenous Course Requirement (ICR) as Part of a Good Way to Reconciliation

Abstract: In the fall of 2016, The University of Winnipeg implemented a mandatory Indigenous course requirement (ICR). We are all learning about and working towards an holistic way to do education in the academy that strives to engage and cultivate curiosity and motivation in all students. A course that I teach in my department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications is called Representations of Indigeneity. In this presentation, I will introduce you to this course’s content and pedagogy, where we look at how Indigenous peoples are represented in the media and society, what we can do to change racial stereotypes, and how we can move towards reconciliation. I will also introduce you to the research we conducted on how the first year of the ICR implementation went for students, faculty, and staff.
One of the predominant ways of measuring student success in the academy is through their writing and testing abilities. Not all students feel comfortable with that medium of performance and therefore, fail to succeed in the traditional sense. There are many other ways to measure student knowledge other than the traditional research paper. Therefore, in the Representations of Indigeneity class, although it is in a department that predominantly teaches writing, we look at alternative ways of learning and expressing knowledge.
Some of the pedagogical strategies that we use to accomplish the goals are:
• the human library method,
• a Photovoice exercise,
• collaboratively hosting a public lecture featuring an Indigenous artist,
• engaging with the community by physically supporting local Indigenous owned businesses,
• experiential learning opportunities as part of the class,
• field trips,
• and an exploration and invitation of creative mediums for researching, sharing, and presenting knowledge.
In this presentation I will share tips that worked well to motivate students to transformative learning.