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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2008

Navigating the Academy: Conference Connects with Aboriginal Scholars

Close to 100 academics gathered in Winnipeg earlier this month for CAUT’s first conference for Aboriginal scholars.

Navigating the Academy was “a remarkable event,” said CAUT president Greg Allain. “I believe it was the largest gathering ever of Aboriginal academics in Canada. The discussion was enlightening, stimulating and productive. The conference explored important issues and set out a plan of action that we will all work on together.”

Planned by CAUT’s Working Group on Aboriginal Post-secondary Education, the conference focused on eight key topics — working conditions, career development and mentoring, the role of academic staff associations in representing their Aboriginal members, relations with Aboriginal communities, relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal staff, student issues, institutional attitudes and barriers, and the role of indigenous knowledge in teaching and research.

Conference attendees spent the final day identifying initiatives CAUT could implement. Among the priority issues are rating all universities and colleges for Aboriginal supportiveness, establishing a listserv for Aboriginal academics in Canada, publishing a book in the CAUT book series on ideas and strategies from the conference, and preparing a collective bargaining guide on Aboriginal issues.

“We hope to make this conference a regular event so we can continue discussion with our Aboriginal colleagues and evaluate our progress,” Allain said.

Working Group Profile

CAUT’s Working Group on Aboriginal Post-secondary Education is made up of First Nations, Metis and Inuit academics from across Canada. The members are:

Jo-ann Archibald, associate dean for indigenous education at the University of British Columbia;
Richard Atleo, who served as co-chair of the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound and is currently research liaison at the University of Manitoba and associate ad­junct professor at the University of Victoria;
Valerie Hart, Inuit education coordinator with the College of the North Atlantic;
Dan McDonald, president of the faculty association at Malaspina University College and president of the Mid-Island Metis Nation;
David Newhouse, chair of indigenous studies at Trent University and co-chair of the Trent Aboriginal Education Council;
Corinne Jetté, retired professor of engineering at Concordia University and member of the board of the Canadian Aboriginal Science & Technology Society;
Charlotte Ross, coordinator of the academic program for Aboriginal students at the University of Saskatchewan;
Wanda Wuttunee, head of native studies at the University of Manitoba;
Winnie Montague, associate district administrator at the College of the North Atlantic;
Blair Stonechild, professor of indigenous studies at the First Nations University of Canada, and
Emma Laroque, professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba.