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Student Spotlight: Jonas Henderson

Every other week, meet an Indigenous student in our spotlight series! This week’s student spotlight features Jonas Henderson, and the student-led initiatives he is currently part of:

 

Tell me a little about yourself, what are you studying at McGill?

Hallo! My name is Jonas Henderson, and I’m a U2 Civil Engineering student. I am Kalaallit Inuit (the people of Western Greenland) and the Senior co-Chair of AISES.

Could you explain a little more about AISES, and your role in it?

AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) is a multinational organization dedicated to promoting and supporting indigenous involvement within STEM fields. My role as Co-Chair is to foster a sense of community for Indigenous STEM students at McGill, increase visibility, and facilitate outreach and networking activities.

 

What projects/developments within your faculty are you most excited about?

The project about which I am the most excited is the one headed by the IIC (Indigenous Inclusion Committee), which aims to bring Indigenous Art into various engineering buildings. I am excited about it because I believe that it will not only increase visibility for Indigenous engineers, but also beautify engineering buildings. I am lucky enough to sit on the selection commitee for this project, and I am eager to see the pieces on display!

Student Spotlight: Sativa Kawakami

Get to know some of the Indigenous students on campus in our new bi-weekly spotlight series! This week, we get to know a little more about the Indigenous Student Alliance’s (ISA) new Co-Chair, Sativa Kawakami!

Tell us a little about yourself, what are you studying at McGill?
My name is Sativa, but most people call me Tiva, and I am a U1 student majoring in Environmental Biology at McGill Mac Campus. Ethnobotany has always been a huge interest of mine, and so, I take lots of anthropology courses downtown, too! I am Manitoba Metis, born and raised in Winnipeg. Although I miss the prairies every day, I am beyond thankful to be studying at McGill and to have connected with many amazing people since moving to Montreal.
How did you begin to get involved with the ISA?
I met some folks at the welcome back event with First Peoples’ House who recommended I join the ISA. As a shy freshman, joining the club was a little daunting, but I would consider it one of the best decisions I have made as a McGill student. Looking back, everyone who is involved with the ISA is so wonderful, and I feel silly having ever been nervous to join. Initially, I was interested in all ISA initiatives, but was ultimately looking to make friends in a new city; connecting with other Indigenous students and allies was a major hope of mine following my move, that has now been and continues to be fulfilled.
What are you most excited about in your new role in the ISA?
I am honoured to take on the role of Co-Chair of the ISA! My appreciation for this club and all of its members grows every day, and I am extremely grateful to be able to increase my involvement with the group. Community building has and will always be very important to me, and my new position as co-chair gives me a great opportunity and platform to enhance relations between Indigenous students and allies at McGill and to strengthen and extend our lovely community beyond the University. I am thrilled to further connect with all the ISA members, and to enjoy the positive space that this club creates.
Learn more about the ISA and what they’re up to on their Facebook Page.

Looking Back at ‘Change the Name’: A Debriefing Circle

On February 8th at 5:30PM (EST), there will be a debriefing circle focusing on the Change the Name campaign.
This circle intends to provide closure to the campaign and provide an  opportunity for the Indigenous community on campus to collectively heal from the emotional and mental distress that was experienced on a variety of levels.
This event is open to Indigenous students, faculty/staff and alumni. It will be facilitated by Konwatsitsa:wi Meloche, who is a community member of Kahnawá:ke, and the circle will be open and closed by an Elder, Michael Standup. As well, participants will receive a small gift for taking the time to participate in this event. This meeting will not be recorded.

Speaker Series: How to Do Anti-Racist and Decolonial Work Within the Academy and Beyond McGill Department of English

The EGSA’s 2020-21 Equity and Diversity Committee has organized a four-part webinar / speaker series entitled “How to Do Anti-Racist and Decolonial Work Within the Academy and Beyond.” It will take place in January and February 2021 and is open to both graduate students and faculty members of McGill’s Department of English.

With the support of ISCEI and the Mellon Grant, this series includes Indigenous speakers who will be sharing their knowledge on this topic. Indigenous speakers include Vicky Boldo, Autumn Godwin and Kim Tallbear. See below for some of the topics and speakers in this series!

 

Beth Berila: “Building an Anti-Racist Culture” (January 14, 9-12pm EST)

This interactive workshop will explore how to practice anti-racism at the individual, collective, and structural levels in your department. We will discuss what is already working and generate best practices for anti-racism in our lives, pedagogies, departmental practices/policies, and communities.

Vicky Boldo (Cree/Métis), Autumn Godwin (nehithaw iskwew), Laurence Lainesse (white settler): “Collective Resistance & Solidarity: Creating Social and Decolonial Change” (January 27, 3-5pm EST)

Are you open-minded? Do you welcome diversity and difference as an opportunity to learn and broaden yourself both professionally and personally? Are respect and dignity important for you in team building and community service? This two-hour workshop is intended to provide a culturally safe space for exchange between each of the participants and the presenters. From a perspective of lived experience, we will discuss different strategies of resistance and solidarity implemented by the facilitators and participants in their own communities and within colonial structures of Canada and Quebec. Let’s engage and explore how collective actions of solidarity and resistance can contribute toward the reconstruction of a more just and decolonial society.

Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate): “Diversity v. Decolonization in the Academy” (February 9, 5-6pm EST)

In Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s seminal 2012 article, “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” they define decolonization as bringing about “the repatriation of Indigenous land and life.” With this concrete transfer of (re)sources in mind, Dr. TallBear will address the differences between “diversity and inclusion” vs. decolonization. Also drawing on Adam Gaudry’s and Danielle Lorenz’s 2018 article “Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization,” TallBear argues for a more critical approach than the settler state’s multicultural model of inclusion—one that seeks to aid repatriatiation of “land and life.” Dr. TallBear will provide concrete examples of what repatriation looks like in the context of academic decolonization.

Bettina Love: “We Gon’ Be Alright, But That Ain’t Alright: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom” (February 22, 5-6pm EST)

Dr. Love’s talk will discuss the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she calls the educational survival complex. Abolitionist Teaching is built on the creativity, imagination, boldness, ingenuity, and rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists to demand and fight for an educational system where all students are thriving, not simply surviving.

 

Two New Courses on Indigenous Languages in Linguistics

In the upcoming Winter 2021 semester, two new courses will be offered by the Department of Linguistics! These courses will be led by professor James Crippen.

Ling 211: Introduction to Indigenous Languages

This course provides and introduction to the scientific study of language through the lens of Indigenous languages in North America. This course includes basic linguistic concepts like sound system organization, word formation and structure, gender and classification, expression of time and space are all explored through examples drawn from Indigenous languages across the continent. Cultural and political issues addressed include orality versus literacy, language endangerment and revitalization, and social policies of support or suppression.

This course will take place on Tuesday/Thursdays from 11:30am to 12:55pm.

 

Ling 411/611: Structure/Analysis of an Indigenous Language

This course reviews the languages in the Na-Dene (Dene-Eyak-Tlingit) family of North America. Topics include: history of research on the family, shared patterns in the organization of linguistic subsystems, genealogical relationships and subgrouping proposals and particular problems that Na-Dene languages pose for linguistic theory. Students will select a particular linguistic phenomenon to review in a final paper, either in depth for a particular lanugage or more shallowly across a selection of languages in the family. Graduate students will apply current theoretical research to their selected topic and will develop a novel analysis of primary data from published sources.

This course will be offered Monday/Wednesday from 4:05-5:25pm. Note that this course is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Indigenous Studies Program Presents a Film Screening: Gather

On December 7th at 7pm EST, students from INDG 400 (Food Sovereignty) were invited to watch the film “Gather”, directed by Sanjay Rawal. In addition to the INDG 400 course, students from another course and First People’s House were invited to attend the screening.

“Gather” is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.

Watch the full trailer for “Gather” here:

Student RA Job Opportunity: Bicentennial (Share widely)

 

ISCEI and the Bicentennial Working Group are looking for a part-time research assistant to help in the research, planning and logistical coordination of the Bicentennial Anniversary Program. Applicants must have a strong understanding and awareness of Indigenous-centered methodology and community. The research involved will focus on McGill’s history with Indigenous communities, and the RA will be reporting to Indigenous Initiatives (Office of the Provost).

If you know of a student who would be interested in this position, please pass this along to them. Indigenous applicants will be prioritized, but non-Indigenous applicants are still welcomed.

 

Primary Responsibilities

Under the supervision of Indigenous Initiatives (Office of the Provost, Vice-Principal Academic and Finance), the selected student will:

Program

  • Conduct research on topics as deemed relevant to the Bicentennial Indigenous Program. This will include, but not limited to the following topics:
  •  McGill’s Indigenous history:
  • Historical figures, notable alumni
  • Relationships to communities
  • Milestones
  • Attend meetings with the committee and take minutes if need be.
  • Assist with internal communications as required
  • Assist with stakeholder mapping and engagement.

 

Administrative

  • Meeting minutes
  • Information management
  • Logistical planning and coordination

 

Required skills and knowledge

  • Professionalism and ability to interact with various stakeholder groups including academics, administrators, students, and external contacts.
  • Ability to work autonomously and as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated writing and communications skills.
  • Knowledge of, and prior experience in conducting research in University Archives is an asset.
  • English, spoken and written. Proficiency in French would be an asset.

 

 

Wage: $15/hour

Hours: 15-20 hours/week

Closing date: N/A

Duration: ~15 weeks (Dec.. 2020 – April . 2021)

To apply: Please email cover letter (including student ID no.) and résumé to iscei@mcgill.ca

 

Students Call for More Support across Campus

In a recent article from the Bull and Bear, a student-led newspaper on campus, Indigenous students call for more support across campus. As the recent announcement of the Men’s Teamname being changed to Redbird, a sense of closure was finally brought to students who fought for the name to be changed.

In the article, Indigenous students, alumni, and faculty discuss the lack of support systems currently in place and push for more Indigenous faculty and staff. One student shared her experience at the Wellness Hub, stating that multiple stereotypes were being perpetrated on her by doctors and psychiatrists while trying to seek help.

As well, one Indigenous graduate noted that McGill is only beginning to address these issues and that more work needs to be done. As the Indigenous student population is very small, erasure and isolation from student services on campus occur more often within the community.

You can read the full article here.

“Knowledge Mobilization: from SSHRC Buzzword to Actual Meaningful Thing”: Online Workshop for Graduate Students

The Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) announced a SAGE online workshop on Friday Nov. 13th 2020, from 12:00-1:30 PM (PST) with Dr. Shiri Pasternak titled: “Knowledge Mobilization: from SSHRC Buzzword to Actual Meaningful Thing”.

Have you come across the term ‘knowledge mobilization’ when tediously filling out grant applications? Have you wondered why this language of war is used to describe the thing you are quietly doing in libraries and in your room? And what you can do, beyond peer-review publishing, to impact the world with your research? Using Yellowhead Institute resources, tools, and “collaterals” as examples (plus some other great forms of public intervention), this workshop is a crash course on making knowledge matter beyond normal academic outputs.

Shiri Pasternak is a professor of criminology at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is also the Research Director at the Yellowhead Institute, a First Nations’-focused and -led think tank based at Ryerson. She is the author of the award-winning book Grounded Authority: the Algonqins of Barriere Lake Against the State, and a bunch of other articles and essays all obsessively focused on abolishing the settler state.

Registration is limited and open to UVic graduate students, faculty, and staff as well as Indigenous graduate students throughout Canada. Register in advance for this meeting: https://uvic.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMrd-mqpzsjG9UX1QoHThmKFgTPfLGMS5Lb

 

Youth Fusion is Hiring

Founded in 2009, Youth Fusion is an award-winning charity that contributes to reducing dropout rates, developing 21st century skills and increasing community engagement among youth by implementing innovative experiential learning projects that create ongoing links between schools and communities. Currently, Youth Fusion is partnered with McGill to help students with career opportunities as well as mentored learning.

Every week, we work with 12,700 youth in 220 schools in rural and urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Youth Fusion is presently hiring for various positions and we invite you to visit the Careers section of our website. We also wanted to put forward the following positions:

Youth Fusion highly values Indigenous knowledge; self-identifying Indigenous candidates are strongly encouraged to apply!

For more information or to apply you can contact Lydia Risi, Senior Director of Operations and Philanthropy – First Nations and Inuit communities (lrisi@fusionjeunesse.org).

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