(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

Freshet of 2018 evokes memories of the flood of 1948

And while the devastation of 70 years ago informs flood protection now, similar event not predicted

Chilliwack Chiefs prove doubters wrong with RBC Cup triumph

The Chiefs played with a chip on their shoulders, claiming their 1st-ever national junior A title.

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

Rising river prompts road closure in Chilliwack

Fraser expected to continue rise on Monday

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Arrest made in last week’s double shooting in East Van

Carleton Stevens, 37, is charged with attempted murder and remains in custody

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

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

Most Read