Register Groups Members List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life > Native Issues Debate continues over Canadian universities' elder-in-residence programs Debate continues over Canadian universities' elder-in-residence programs

Reply LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-07-2006, 03:33 PM   #1
Honey Connoissuer
Blackbear's Avatar
User InfoThanks / Tagging InfoGifts / Achievements / AwardsvBActivity Stats
Blackbear has a reputation beyond repute
Blackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond reputeBlackbear has a reputation beyond repute
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Alaska
Posts: 9,817
Credits: 546.23
Savings: 1.00
Debate continues over Canadian universities' elder-in-residence programs

************************************************** ******************
This Message Is Reprinted Under The FAIR USE
Doctrine Of International Copyright Law:
************************************************** ******************



Debate continues over Canadian universities' elder-in-residence programs

Posted: August 02, 2006 by: _Pam Hughes_
( / Indian Country Today

EDMONTON, Alberta - The presence of elders has become increasingly
formalized on technical, community and university campuses over the last 10 years.
Elders have always visited to share their expertise and life experiences, and
their primary permanent function has been to serve as teachers of culture
and language.

The position of elder-in-residence is increasingly becoming a permanent
position and the function is considered integral to recruitment and retention.
The benefit of elders to students was one of the topics considered at the 2006
Indigenous Scholars Conference held this spring at the University of Alberta.
Conference presentations ran concurrently with an elder's council.

The concentrated higher education system in Canada means that aboriginals
represent significant percentages of student populations in many locations and
the roles of elders are rapidly becoming more formalized. Opinions about
their benefit to students vary from institution to institution.

''The elders at the conference decided they should have a role, but that it
should be decided by elders themselves,'' said Cora Weber-Pillwax, assistant
professor of educational policy studies at the University of Alberta.

''How can elders be incorporated in the true teaching of culture and history
and the understanding of what it's all about, and what those ceremonies are
all about, how culture was based a long time ago? It's not part of the
curriculum,'' said Cree elder Don Cardinal of Winnipeg.

Weber-Pillwax said she was not really in support of elders-in-residence,
except for certain parameters. Most people in the north have elders in their own
communities and their teachings could be totally contrary to that of other
elders or family clans.

The University of Alberta has no permanent elders and spends little on
visiting guests, she said.

In contrast, the University of Manitoba's elder-in-residence program is 10
years old. Roger Armitte, Anishinabe, there since its beginning, said that
other elders are being brought in to meet the needs of students from other
nations and those of young women. Armitte said he is actively involved in all
aspects of ceremony and academics with strong university support.

Red River Community College in Winnipeg meets the needs of the diverse group
of aboriginal students in Winnipeg with a different approach. Red River,
known for its technical education expertise, has two elders who each counsel
two days per week.

''With so many different groups, we have elders working across cultures,''
said Dean of Aboriginal Education Marti Ford. ''If my background is Inuit and
Jules LaValle talks about Ojibwe traditions, it is a sharing of culture and
values between students and elders.''

Students from the greenspace management and engineering programs utilized
knowledge from elders to create a medicine wheel garden of their own design on
campus for use by all of the students. With 13 entrances for the full moons,
the 102-foot-wide circle incorporates the four directions and four colors in
its design and will contain traditional medicines.

At the University of British Columbia, Richard Vedan, director of the First
Nations House of Learning, said that they are just formalizing the role of
elders beyond language teaching by bringing in language instructor and Musqueam
elder Larry Grant two days per week. An endowment brings in additional

''Larry provides continuity in time and place; as people become accustomed
to his presence they drop by.''

Musqueam elders and community members are invited to every ceremony, as it
is their community which hosts the presence of the university, said Vedan, who
also commented that there continues to be a struggle in defining who is an

''My rule is anyone who says they are an elder isn't. It is still an
important discussion.''

As Suzanne Stiegelbauer reported while on faculty at the University of
Toronto, ''There's not many who are teachers who know the teachings as they were
handed down and who know how to put that into your life and practice it as
every day living.''

Yet, in many instances, the value of an elder to the administration is still
as a figurehead. As Stiegelbauer put it, universities have yet to achieve
''involvement of real elders in a real way, not for image or personal gain.''

Glaring examples of this in Canadian academia involve recent administrative
takeovers of Native programs after successful implementation by Native
scholars under the advisement of elders.

''In medicine you first learn in the traditional way and then you can go
farther, but you will then understand it both ways. You can apply the
traditional or Western way but elders have to teach that, be part of the curriculum. If
you don't have that, the university takes over and *******izes the whole
thing,'' said Cardinal.

In addition, universities for the most part seem eager to make their
resources available to aboriginal students, but do not see the value of aboriginal
communities making their resources available to the university.

In northern Manitoba, however, where Native people are the majority of the
population, the two-year-old University College of the North was chartered
with the interests of surrounding communities in the forefront.

New President Denise Henning, Choctaw/Cherokee from Oklahoma, left her post
at the troubled First Nations University of Saskatchewan last year during a
flurry of suspensions, firings and accusations of administration corruption.

She considers this a unique opportunity in mainstream education because the
student population is 75 percent aboriginal and local legislators lobbied for
the university's charter.

''Our new programs are very aboriginal in their approach, being sensitive to
different learning styles; and as we grow we are hiring a lot of people,
making sure if they are not aboriginal, they have aboriginal values.''

Elders vote on the governance and curriculum of the university. There is an
elder's council and the faculty is now 48 percent aboriginal.

The university is accredited to grant undergraduate degrees. Most
community-oriented First Nations colleges in Canada, except for First Nations
University in Saskatchewan and a handful of other schools, have been denied
independent accreditation by the Canadian government.

The university promotes the collaborative learning of cultural traditions.

''Math and science is where we are behind because they are not taught as
part of the lived environment,'' said Henning. ''Beadwork teaches division and
fractions; pottery and firing, physics and chemistry. Life makes them
tangible, so that we are not terrified of going into medicine and engineering.''

There are two permanent elders-in-residence, but the council members also
serve as student advisers, which maintains a balance in sharing of

Henning said that elders are not just there for prayers and to be given
tobacco to.

''That's exactly right,'' said Cardinal, a pioneer of First Nations treaty
rights. ''From what I see of universities, there is not much effect on higher
learning. Elders are being used mostly in the counseling aspect. There just
hasn't been a direct involvement of elders. And it's been all verbal. It
hasn't been written down.''

Another Indigenous Scholars Conference presenter, Marie Battiste, director
of the Aboriginal Research Education Centre at the University of Saskatchewan,
has repeatedly stated that the use of elders for purely spiritual functions
is a result of the entrenched Eurocentric outlook of Western administrators.

''The renewed interest in indigenous knowledge has sparked a reconsideration
of the universal value of Eurocentric knowledge, which requires a
reformulation of the legitimate conditions for indigenous education,'' Battiste wrote
for the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. ''The immediate
challenge is how to balance colonial legitimacy, authority and disciplinary
capacity with indigenous knowledge and pedagogies.''
Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.
Blackbear is offline   Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Sponsored Links


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Join the online community forum celebrating Native American Culture, Pow Wows, tribes, music, art, and history.

Join Today!

Your Guide to Native American Pow Wows Since 1996

Register For Free

Enjoy the benefits of being a member of!

Join our Native American online community focused on Pow Wow singing, dancing, crafts, Native American music, Native American videos, and more.

Add your Pow Wow to our Calendar

Share your photos and videos

Play games, enter contests, and much more!

New Threads

Pow Wow Calendar Search

Month: Year:



Featured Articles

Dance Styles