School of Graduate Studies increases support for Indigenous grad students

Initiatives include travel awards, increased scholarships, new Indigenous Student Admission regulation

The School of Graduate Studies is located in Gordon Hall.

In light of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee Task Force (TRCTF) final report released in April 2017, the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) has introduced new initiatives aimed at enhancing support for Indigenous graduate students on campus. 

According to Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer’s report to Senate on Mar. 13, there are a number of TRCTF initiatives ready to be implemented. 

Her report detailed that theSGS will introduce Indigenous Travel Awards which will support masters and doctoral students who write theses that involve Indigenous research. These academic projects often involve travel to engage with band members in other parts of the country. 

In addition, the 2017 revision to the regulation of thesis format has been updated again. As Shearer’s report details, this was done in an attempt to acknowledge “the importance of providing an opportunity for student reflections on their experience.” 

In order to recognize, “different types of research, means of knowledge dissemination/mobilization, and ways of knowing that constitute scholarly work,” the original regulation was revised to provide structural and compositional flexibility.

The SGS has also increased the monetary value of entrance scholarships for Indigenous students and has partnered with the school’s Aboriginal Council to augment research collaboration training with Indigenous communities. 

In an email to The Journal, Vice-Provost and Dean of the SGS Brenda Brouwer wrote, “[t]here has been added impetus to enhance support resources for Indigenous graduate students, take steps to remove barriers to access, recognize and support Indigenous knowledge, and enhance awareness of what equitable research means in the context of conducting research with Indigenous communities.” 

Effective immediately, the Indigenous Student Admission regulation has been improved to increase accessibility for self-identifying Indigenous students who want to pursue graduate studies. 

According to a document provided to The Journal by Brouwer, factors such as “Indigenous candidates’ academic, cultural, personal and professional background, and other factors indicative of capacity for graduate level study and research” will be looked at and appraised on a case-by-case basis.

“This is important work that contributes to increasing the number of Indigenous Masters and PhD graduates with advanced training is an area of study and the skills to translate their academic knowledge and skills into multiple settings inside and beyond the academy,” Brouwer wrote. 

“Furthermore, by increasing the diversity of our graduate population we all benefit from the diversity of perspectives, experience and learning,” she continued. “Indigenous scholars are important role models and can lead us to understand, support and embrace different ways of knowing and engage with community to conduct respectful and meaningful research with ndigenous people and communities.”

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