Program focuses on indigenous community

Professional Masters in Public Administration (PMPA) teaches students self-governance

Tracy Maracle, MPA’10 (left) said that the PMPA program was personally relevant and the only one she found that suited her needs.
Tracy Maracle, MPA’10 (left) said that the PMPA program was personally relevant and the only one she found that suited her needs.

Last June four students walked out of Grant Hall as Canada’s first graduates of a Professional Masters in Public Administration (PMPA) with a special concentration in indigenous public administration and policy.

The program was started in 2007 by the Queen’s School of Policy Studies, in conjunction with the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) which is located in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Lynn Freeman, the assistant director (administration) of the MPA/PMPA Program said that Queen’s created this program in response to a request from the indigenous community.

“First Nations Technical Institute came to us looking for a way to support Aboriginal people who already had an undergraduate degree, but wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Aboriginal Studies,” she said, adding that the regular PMPA program was established in 1976.

Tracy Maracle, MPA ’10, enjoyed the personal relevance of the program and the cross-section of students and faculty.

“It’s probably the best course I think I’ve ever taken. It was relevant to what I was living, and for the most part it really pertained to our lives in looking for solutions for social policy,” she said. “It opened my eyes to a whole different level of being able to fit into a community.”

Maracle said she was on working at FNTI and heard the program was being created.

“It was the only thing that I had found that remotely suited my needs,” she said. Maracle commuted back and forth every weekend from Tyendiega to Queen’s for the program but she said it was well worth the trek.

“The program has shown me how we as Aboriginal peoples can govern ourselves and make our communities better. I now work for Hastings Country District School Board as a co-ordinator for an alternative program on the reserve,” Maaracle said. “The PMPA program has given me the knowledge and skills to do so.” Freeman said Maracle is a prime example of the type of student the program seeks to attract. She said it’s designed for students who already have an established career and are unable to leave it to pursue another degree and that all applicants are expected to have at least five years of work experience on top of the regular application requirements, which include an undergraduate degree.

The Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program offers a traditional one-year course structure. Students in this program may also take electives in the Indigenous public policy field.

“Ryerson University currently offers a BA in public administration and governance, and graduates from this program are typically attracted to the indigenous public administration and policy concentration offered by the Queen’s PMPA program,” Freeman said.

The program takes three years, and classes take place one weekend per month in addition to a two-week intensive spring session. Now in its second year, Freeman said she hopes the program will continue to expand.

“Twelve students are currently enrolled in PMPA program in indigenous public administration and policy, and this accounts for about 15 per cent of the total students enrolled in the PMPA program,” Freeman said, adding that as more people continue to graduate from the program, there will hopefully be greater interest in it.

“The students are really pleased with their education,” she said. “The goal of the program is to build policy capacity in Aboriginal organizations and communities, and I think that we’re achieving that goal.”

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