(Mount Saint Vincent University/Instagram)

University under scrutiny over residential schools course taught by white prof

Only Indigenous people have the experience to teach ways they’ve been discriminated against: critics

A Nova Scotia university is under fire for assigning a course about Canada’s residential schools to a non-Indigenous professor, something activists say undermines reconciliation efforts.

Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax is expected to offer the course, Selected Topics in North American History: Residential Schools, this fall.

The school’s website says the professor slated to teach the course has an expertise in Atlantic Canadian First Nations history, with a specialization in the historical experiences of 20th century Indigenous women.

Yet the decision to assign a “settler scholar” to teach the course has been slammed on social media as a kind of historical appropriation and reinforcement of the systemic oppression of First Nations.

Critics say only Indigenous people have the lived experience to understand the complex and cumulative ways they’ve been discriminated against, and that they should have the agency to teach their own history.

The university says it will be providing comment on the controversy later today.

Martha Walls, the assistant professor assigned to the course, said in an email that she takes the “important concerns aired over Facebook extremely seriously.”

“Early next week, I will be part of a meeting with Indigenous faculty and staff and others to work through this matter,” she said.

Rebecca Thomas, a Mi’kmaq community activist in Halifax, says part of reconciliation is allowing Indigenous Peoples a voice.

“There is this perpetuation that non-Indigenous people have the right and expertise to speak on Indigenous topics when in reality the lived experience of what it’s like to be a product of these systems within Canada, there’s no voice better than first voice,” she said.

“We get taught about and studied as though we are gone, but we’re still here. People shouldn’t see Indigenous people telling their own stories as exotic or a novelty. We’re authoring our own stories now, and that sadly is very new but needs to be normalized so that it’s the every day occurrence.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nanaimo’s Lego community creating, co-operating

Mid Island Lego Users Group is always looking for creative new members

Nanaimo mayor says new tent city is ‘a good option’ for now

Municipality to provide toilets, garbage collection and police patrols at downtown homeless camp

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools plans to expand focus school program

If someone asked a class of Fairview Community School students about reading… Continue reading

UPDATE: Nanaimo city hall dealing with leaked report

Privacy commissioner notified after release of confidential report on purchase card use

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Fire hall process flawed

We cannot find anyone who knew about a vote for the borrowing of $17 million for a fire hall

VIDEO: Nanaimo celebrates heritage with parade, festival

Nanaimo Heritage Festival includes parade downtown and music and activities at park

Biologists keep an eye out for Nanaimo’s next generation of turtles

Cameras at Buttertubs Marsh help monitor populations of western painted turtle, a species-at-risk

NRE will present business plan to the public this month

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange plans public engagement sessions for May 26 and May 30

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The less oil that flows through B.C., the better

A catastrophic oil spill on our coast could never be cleaned up to any extent, says letter writer

Artificial turf field officially dedicated in Nanaimo

City and school district dedicate $3.6-million NDSS Community Field

Nanaimo Astronomy Society lecture will lament light pollution

Lindsay Malbon, Bill Weller and Mitchell and Andrew Gair guest speakers at May 24 meeting

UPDATE: Woman dies after ocean accident near Tofino

Good Samaritan says lifeguards are needed at Long Beach and along the Pacific Rim Park Reserve

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Most Read