Camosun Faculty and Staff Collaborate on Indigenization Guides for BC Post-Secondary Institutions

BC post-secondary faculty and staff now have a wealth of in-depth resources and support as they work toward incorporating reconciliation and Indigenization into their teaching and learning practices, thanks to a new series of open educational guides. The project was managed by Camosun College faculty member Dianne Biin in collaboration with BCcampus, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and a community of Indigenous and ally writers across the province.

Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Education Institutions is a professional educational series offered through BCcampus to help support post-secondary front-line support staff, faculty, academic leaders and administrators, and curriculum developers as they work toward integrating Indigenous perspectives and Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing and relating into university and college curriculum, programming and services.

Camosun College faculty member Dianne Biin, who is from the Tsilhqot’in Nation, was seconded to manage the collaborative project in 2016 with BCcampus and Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. This project was guided by a project steering committee of Indigenous education leaders from BC universities, colleges, and institutes, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, and Métis Nation BC.

Biin has been a faculty member at Camosun since 2009 and has taken on various management projects and teaching roles over the years. Currently, she is on assignment with Camosun’s Indigenous Education and Community Connections centre as Indigenization Coordinator.

“The secondment gave me time to step away from the college and support a project that provides a positive impact for higher education across the province,” said Biin. “I was the project manager and content developer, so I collaborated with over 50 people to design and create the open educational resources. I am so thankful for the guidance, shared expertise, and co-learning I experienced with contributors and BCcampus colleagues throughout the secondment. Asking for generous contributions from across the province required me to accept those gifts in a good way with a good heart and mind.”

Other Camosun collaborators who were the principle writers for the Leaders and Administrators Guide included:  Director of Indigenous Education and Community Connections, Janice Simcoe; Indigenization and Sustainability Strategist, Dawn Smith; Director of Learning Services, Sybil Harrison; and Instructional Designer, Jennifer Stein. Simcoe also served as the Co-Chair of the project’s steering committee, drawing on knowledge gleaned from the Camosun Indigenization Initiative, which has been active since 2005.

“Indigenization requires huge cultural change in an institution,” says Janice Simcoe, Camosun’s Director of Indigenous Education and Community Connections. “Post-secondary education systems were not developed and did not evolve with Indigenous students or community in mind. Indigenization challenges the assumptions that underlie what we learn in post-secondary, how we learn it, why we learn it, what we do with it. Despite it being hard work, Indigenization further humanizes our work. It results in good things for all students, and ultimately for all employees.”

To develop the Leaders and Administrators Guide, Camosun writers interviewed various community champions and educational leaders to hear perspectives about the steps needed to begin Indigenization at the personal and organizational level in public post-secondary. Those interviewed included Camosun President Sherri Bell, Vice President of Education John Boraas, Songhees Elder Skip Dick, Director of the WSÁNEĆ Adult Education Centre Kendra Underwood, Selkirk College President Angus Graeme, Indigenous faculty member Corrine Michel, and Dean of Access Ian Humphries.

“As a collaborative project, we gave contributors and the project steering committee time to explore concepts and structures for the guides,” explains Biin. “So at times, the project stages became a circular process where we would go back and revisit or clarify a concept and then bring it forward again. Developing some of the resources required pulling authors together over a few days to brainstorm and build the table of contents, learning activities and highlight key resources; afterwards, I would complete the open content for the guide. These intensives, or design sprints, always had a relational element so everyone could introduce themselves, share their vision, and build relationships with peers and content experts. At certain points, it felt like we were building good medicine for others to use because we came together with good intentions. I am humbled to have part of this process and I look forward to what these resources will become at the local level as they can be adapted and revised.”

In total, six individual guides make up the full series, which together support Indigenization at various institutional levels. The recently released series meets the goals of the provincial Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Strategy and Action Plan, which aims to incorporate the history, knowledge, and voices of Indigenous peoples in support of decolonization, reconciliation and systemic change across post-secondary institutions.

Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Education Institutions is available as an online open learning resource on the BCcampus repository.

Original article from Camosun College