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Title:Indigenous-engaged education, reconciliation and relationality: Rallying together for respectful LIS leadership
Author(s):Samek, Toni; MacLeod, Lorisia; MacLeod, Kaia; Lar-Son, Kayla; Ball, Tanya; Carr-Wiggin, Anne
Subject(s):Indigenous
Library and information studies
Canada
Reconciliation
Relationality
Abstract:The 2020 ALISE statistical data reveals Indigenous students comprise less than one-half percent of the total number of students across reporting programs. The MLIS program 2020-21 Indigenous student population at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), University of Alberta is seven percent. There is a story to tell. With this telling, showing up, active listening, and reflection are welcomed alongside questioning and commenting as forms of engagement with the panel’s insights into a Canadian case of Indigenous-engaged education. Importantly, the session serves the aim of socially engaged forms of LIS education and educational experience aimed at addressing deeply rooted structures in society that transcend the specific case. While it operates within the context of decolonization, indigenization and anti-racism in Canadian academia, this case has potential for informing broader advancements in recruitment, teaching and learning, experiential learning, community-engaged research and scholarship, academic service, and educational approaches that decolonize curriculum and pedagogy. This political will is inspired by the Universities Canada Principles on Indigenous Education. "Universities Canada represents universities across Canada, which educate more than a million students each year. Indigenous students continue to be underrepresented in Canadian higher education institutions and our universities are committed to do their part to close this education gap, recognizing the urgency of this issue for the country. Closing the gap will strengthen Indigenous communities, allow Indigenous peoples to continue to strive for self-realization, enhance the informed citizenship of Canadians, and contribute to Canada’s long-term economic success and social inclusion." (Universities Canada, 2015) With the 2015 publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Final Report by the Government of Canada, reconciliation between Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) on Turtle Island and settler Canadians occupies an important place in public conversation and has become an increasingly pressing public issue. Within that conversation, it is widely recognized that education is a central element of reconciliation. Located on Treaty 6 territory, territory of the Papaschase, and the homeland of the Métis Nation, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, SLIS is engaged in reconciliation with Indigenous communities including Indigenous students, staff and instructors in the MLIS program. The School’s ethos of commitment to reconciliation has been inherent in recognizing that Edmonton is home to the second largest urban Indigenous population in Canada and that over half of Canada’s Indigenous population live in the four western provinces. SLIS recognizes its mandate as the only MLIS program based in the Prairie provinces and the only purely online MLIS opportunity in Canada with reach into remote regions provides the responsibility to be reflective and supportive of reconciliation. In Canadian context, reconciliation is understood to be about “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between “Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples” and that to realize that aim, “there has to be an awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour” (Government of Canada, Vol 6, 3). The context for reconciliation at SLIS is introduced by Toni Samek, Professor (and SLIS Chair 2015-2020), who sets the stage for some of the inspirational people in the School’s reconciliation journey, including select leaders with whom she has engaged in reverse mentorship. Librarian Lorisia MacLeod is a 2018 SLIS alumna and a proud member of the James Smith Cree Nation. During her MLIS, she served as president of the School’s student association at a time when discussions around new initiatives (e.g., land acknowledgement) for the association were just beginning to gain traction. Student leadership positions are key to the development of the field given they are often formative for self-advocacy, prioritizing goals, and identifying personal vs organizational aims. Those interested in student governance often go on to run professional associations, committees, and other bodies further impacting the field. Drawing on her own leadership adventures and navigating leadership roles with her Indigenous identity, Lorisia discusses her experience with innovations and particularly setbacks as important elements in creating resiliency in programs and people. Kaia MacLeod, also a proud member of the James Smith Cree Nation follows. She is the current student President at SLIS, serving in a role she stepped into the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kaia shares how she pays attention to both good and bad leadership practices as she seeks out models to experiment with in the development of her own unique leadership style. She speaks to her critical experiences in learning to step back and forward, as well as getting direct and directly hands-on in her leadership journey. This journey reflects how the pandemic is impacting inequities in our communities in both new and old ways. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its 94 ‘Calls to Action’ where educational and memory institutions were called upon to address their current relationship with Indigenous Peoples. One of many steps the School has taken to reconcile this past is the creation of “LIS 598: Indigenous Library and Information Studies in a Canadian Context”. It is the first three-credit, graduate course in Canada about Indigenous librarianship that is taught from an Indigenous perspective by Indigenous instructors. We hear from Indigenous academic teaching staff, and SLIS alumni, Indigenous Programs and Services librarian Kayla Lar-Son and Faculty of Native Studies PhD student Tanya Ball who share their experiences pioneering this course. They provide unfettered insights into Indigenous pedagogies aimed to foster more broadly the development of the global field of Indigenous LIS. Tanya, Kayla, Lorisia and Kaia came to SLIS with the support of the University of Alberta Library’s Indigenous Internship. Librarian Anne Carr-Wiggin speaks to the Internship and the Academic Librarian Residency program at the University of Alberta. Both opportunities are designed to create a continuum for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students from the MLIS program to a career in librarianship. Anne describes how these efforts help to bring Indigenous voices to the library and increase relationality, as well as critical lessons learned from the first people involved. Panelists actively listen to and engage with attendees, enhancing accountability and the story circle! References Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Canada's Residential Schools: Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. McGill-Queen’s University Press. Universities Canada. (2015, June 19). Principles on Indigenous Education.
Issue Date:2021-09-20
Series/Report:Education for information professionals
Sociocultural perspectives
Specific populations
Social justice
Academic libraries
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/110947
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17


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