09
March
2016
|
21:00
America/Tegucigalpa

UAlberta's Indigenous 'hot button'

The University of Alberta’s Indigenous resources are now just a click away.

By BRIDGET STIRLING

Finding Indigenous resources at the University of Alberta will now be as quick as the click of a button. The university’s new Aboriginal/Indigenous Index of Web Links is going live, complete with a quick link on the UAlberta.ca homepage.

“The University of Alberta possesses a great breadth of events and research activities pertaining to Aboriginal communities, peoples and issues,” says Chris Andersen, interim dean of the Faculty of Native Studies. But until now, he notes, it hasn’t always been easy for people to find these resources across campus—though strong connections have existed in working relationships between different faculties and departments, those links haven’t always been visible for others.

Andersen says the new “hot button” and web page will demonstrate those relationships and offer a tool to improve collaboration. “It offers us a centralized hub to document our efforts, and perhaps to improve the depth of our co-ordination.”

Shana Dion, director of the Aboriginal Student Services Centre, says that the site not only offers easier access to information for current or prospective students, but also sends an important message of welcome.

“This hub of information will instil pride amongst students as it showcases the breadth of knowledge, events, opportunities and academic achievements of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples at the U of A for the rest of the world.”

She also says the site will increase a sense of belonging for students on campus. “Quite simply, they can see themselves as an integral part of the campus community.”

Along with quick access to news stories about Indigenous research and activities on campus, the site includes sections highlighting educational opportunities, community engagement and well-being resources, links to research and scholarly materials, and a collection of the various Indigenous councils and important protocols across the institution. These resources will allow researchers, learners and people simply wanting to understand more about Indigenous history and culture to find what they need in one place. But one of the most exciting resources may be the quick link to the U of A’s resource collection for K–12 educators.

Dwayne Donald, co-chair of the U of A’s Indigenous Education Council, says these resources are part of supporting teaching about Canada’s Indigenous people in the classroom—an approach that requires giving educators access to the tools as well as knowledge on how to use them.

“The resources need to be more than just access to information; it needs to involve a complex combination of a lot of different things, but this is a good start. People will need direction on how to use those resources and the implications for their teaching—it’s always a question of how we teach as well as what we teach.

“Providing access to those resources is a really good thing and a really good start.”

As the university’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action continues to grow, the resource index will be joined by more new spaces that will bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together, both online and on campus, as part of a university that welcomes, celebrates and honours First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in every part of the institution.