Required indigenous learning

An update on the proposed indigenous credit requirement

Scott A. Ford

The proposed Indigenous Credit Requirement (ICR) may not directly affect current students, but they are being encouraged to weigh in on the debate.

According to Kevin Settee, vice-president external affairs for the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, the concept for requiring all University of Winnipeg students to complete three credit hours of an approved indigenous course first came up in 2006.

The proposal is now in its final stages and expected to come into effect fall 2016. Only students who begin university in fall 2016 or later will be expected to fulfill the requirement.

A list of courses that would count towards the ICR is under development. The proposed list of more than 100 classes is currently problematic in that there is not enough space for all students.

“So, potentially, that course list needs to grow,” Settee says. New courses might even be developed.

That is something Jacqueline Romanow, the University of Winnipeg indigenous studies department chair, is concerned about.

Romanow worries that departments, fearing they will lose students because they do not have a course that fits the requirement, will create a new course without putting enough thought into it.

“It makes me a little bit worried because I think these departments are going to come up with a token indigenous course that’s developed by a non-indigenous person and taught by a non-indigenous person with the first purpose being to attract those students who need those three credits,” Romanow says.

Romanow still supports the requirement and thinks it could lead to more positive changes at the university.

“There’s all kinds of indigenous content that could be incorporated in ways that could really benefit students,” Romanow says.

She gives the example of a theatre class where students take a look at plays written by indigenous people.

“Hopefully it will mean that the university will hire more indigenous academics and that will attract more indigenous students,” Romanow says.

She says the requirement was first brought up by students who wanted to reduce racism at the university, which needs to be taken into account when deciding which courses students should be allowed to take for the ICR.

“The University of Winnipeg clearly is committed to moving towards this concept of indigenization, which I think is really important. I think it’s respectful of the land the university is actually on,” Romanow says.

Committee members are not the only ones whose opinions will be impacting the ultimate design of the requirement. The committee will be hosting a number of events throughout the school year and is asking stakeholders, including students, to give their feedback.

“It needs to be done in a way that respects everybody,” says Settee, who encourages students to contact him directly if they want to discuss the requirement.

Go to for more information and to give your feedback on the Indigenous Credit Requirement.

Published in Volume 70, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 17, 2015)

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