(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

Penticton victim in Kamloops shooting may be a case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill, 44, was not previously known to Kamloops police unlike second shooting victim

A mix of sun, cloud, snow expected for Penticton following Family Day

More flurries are forecasted for the area, with 2 to 4 cm falling Tuesday

Okanagan film industry brings in $32 million

Business is brisk in the Okanagan

Family Day move a welcome change: poll

Okanagan readers voted that the new date for Family Day in B.C. is a positive change

Princeton women produce amazing results for the whole town

Last year was the most successful ever for the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary… Continue reading

Elk running across Enderby highway killed in car crash

Motorists urged to take caution after elk hit on Highway 97

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Payless to close 248 Canadian stores, saying it’s ‘ill-equipped’ for market

The company will begin closing stores at the end of March

Letter: United We Roll a working-class protest

The United We Roll movement makes me proud to be a Canadian.… Continue reading

Fundraiser started for Kelowna foreign aid worker trapped in Haiti

Laura Allan can’t return home due to civil unrest in the Caribbean country

Former Shuswap teacher remembered for staying true to beliefs

Celebration of life for Dr. Richard Zigler taking place Saturday, Feb. 23

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Super snow moon set to rise across B.C.

It is the biggest and brightest moon of the year

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Most Read