Students on Haida Gwaii are participating in a groundbreaking program this semester.
The course offered by the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society (HGHES) and accredited by the University of British Columbia will focus on Reconciliation Studies.
The program is offered to anyone in any program, and is the first of its kind in Canada. Although Executive Director of HGHES Carlos Ormond says this is not a new theme for the courses they offer.
The program is made up of five courses: First Nations and Canada (Re)writing History; Law and Governance: Indigenous and European Traditions; Perspectives on Reconciliation; Reconciliation and Resource Management; and Reconciliation and Communities.
Ormond says 30 people from across the province worked over three days to complete the course outline.
Over the three days those people participated in workshop-style conversations and detailed the themes, or five courses. Coincidentally, while they were discussing the courses, Canada was just closing out the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, making these themes more prevalent and well timed as could be.
They then called for curriculum developers, and Ormond explains with the amount of interest they garnered, they were able to develop the course in a balanced way with 10 individuals developing the 5 courses. One, a Haida scholar and a second scholar who is not Indigenous to ensure that both perspectives were covered.
There’s room for 20 students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from 11 universities across the country. These students are studying a wide arrange of disciplines, from sociology to kinesiology to journalism.
According to the HGHES website, this new program will consist of four three-week block courses and one seminar course that will meet throughout the entire semester.
These are senior level university courses intended for third and fourth year undergraduates and open to students from across Canada and internationally through UBC’s visiting students program.
The courses will be taught at the north end of the island in Masset and Gaaw (Old Massett).
Ormond says that it is important to offer these kinds of courses now as we progress further in developing culturally sensitive policy as well as informing future generations of the past and the work that has been done because these young people are our future leaders.
The semester will be offered again next September with a plan to develop a second semester to be offered in 2019, possibly under a new name. HGHES is also looking to expand this idea into a 3 or 5 day-long workshops for adults who are not enrolled in school who want to learn about reconciliation that will hopefully also be available next September.