McMaster approves creation of Indigenous Studies department

The Indigenous Circle at McMaster, a circular space divided into quarters, with curved tiers of stone stone seating radiating out from the centre.

The new Indigenous Studies department will be home to the Indigenous Studies undergraduate program, a planned graduate program, and research and community-focused activities.

Entering its 30th year at McMaster, the Indigenous Studies undergraduate program is one of the longest-standing programs of its kind in Canada. Building on this strong foundation, last month, the university approved the creation of the Indigenous Studies Department, effective July 1, 2022.

The new department will be home to the Indigenous Studies undergraduate program, a planned graduate program, and research and community-focused activities.

The creation of the department is an integral component of the Indigenous Education Strategy, a strategic plan developed by the Indigenous Education Council and McMaster Indigenous Research Institute, to further reconciliation and enhance visibility and impact of the Indigenous community on campus.

“This is an important step in the advancement and empowerment of Indigenous scholars, students and staff at McMaster,” said Jeremiah Hurley, dean of Social Sciences.

“Departmental status provides for a greater integration of Indigenous research and teaching, advances the development of the discipline of Indigenous Studies, and supports the creation of a graduate program.”

Since its inception, Indigenous Studies at McMaster has been a multidisciplinary field of study, focusing on Indigenous-centred thinking and analysis to understand the historical, social, political, and cultural aspects of Indigenous societies in Canada and around the world.

For Adrianne Xavier, acting director of the program, the Indigenous Studies department’s ability to be a tenure home to faculty members is a significant step forward.

“Indigenous faculty members can now hold appointments in Indigenous Studies rather than another department, which is vital to promote Indigenous Studies as a discipline, but also to promote generational leadership to Indigenous youth,” said Xavier.

“This momentous change is a recognition of the long history and dedication to Indigenous education that our faculty members have shown.”

McMaster has a three-decade long record of leadership in Indigenous studies and scholarship. The department’s creation adds to that commitment and is in alignment with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

“While the department itself will become a focal point for Indigeneity at McMaster, we expect that the work done by its students, staff and faculty will inspire and advance Indigenous leadership everywhere on campus,” said Susan Tighe, provost and vice-president, Academic.

“We are stronger as a global university when every member of our diverse academic community can contribute from their perspective and way of knowing.”

Indigenous Studies garners interest from Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike, and continues to expand in terms of course offerings, enrolment and faculty research programs, and maintains strong community relationships to Six Nations of the Grand River.

To learn more about Indigenous Studies at McMaster, please visit the website.

Related Stories