Last month, the UBC Vancouver Senate approved a new Masters in Indigenous Education program, the first of its kind in BC.
The program, designed for Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous settlers interested in developing their knowledge of and working in Indigenous education, will rise to meet the rapidly changing Indigenous education landscape in the province.
Crucially, the program will provide those enrolled with the tools needed to effectively support Indigenous students and their families, as well as improve educational outcomes for Indigenous students across BC.
Dr. Jan Hare, associate dean for Indigenous Education, explained the new Master in Education (MEd) program emerged from “community requests for broader programming.”
“This new MEd in Indigenous Education responds to the goals of building educational capacity in Indigenous communities, creating pathways to graduate education for Indigenous students, and ensuring all educators are equipped to incorporate Indigenous knowledges, histories, perspectives, and pedagogies into teaching and learning,” Hare said.
The new program also responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action for education.
Community consultation was an integral part to the development of the new program. The Faculty of Education consulted “with school districts, Indigenous educators, graduate students, and leading educators in the development and design of this new degree program,” according to Hare.
Students of the program will have the opportunity to develop specialties in a variety of areas, including Indigenous language revitalization; Eco-Justice, Sustainability and Indigeneity; Indigenous Educational Leadership; and Indigenous Health and Education. The program will also centre on land-and place-based learning.
UBC’s Faculty of Education currently provides a wide range of course offerings in Indigenous Education, as well as the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP) and the Ts”kel Concentration, a program “for advancing Indigenous access and Indigenous content in education and across disciplines throughout UBC,” according to the faculty’s website.
Historically, however, Indigenous perspectives, histories and teachings have been purposefully excluded from school curriculum across Canada.
“I think we need to acknowledge the deeply rooted ideologies of white settler supremacy and colonial logics that shape our education systems, both past and present,” Hare explained.
Hare hopes that the MEd in Indigenous education program will address achievement disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners, as well as ensure that all students engage with Indigenous knowledge as part of their studies.
And, with it’s blended delivery model, Hare explained that the faculty was “able to extend educational opportunities for Indigenous learners and communities beyond the physical campus.”
“I’m excited at being able to create new pathways to graduate education for Indigenous students.”