nytimes.com - 65 days ago
A College Built for Canadian Settlers Envisions an Indigenous Future
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — On a recent brilliant morning, the University of Saskatchewan transformed its college green into a powwow arena, with white canvas tepees, drum circles and lines of young women braiding their hair and affixing eagle plumes in preparation for graduation festivities.
The university’s founders could hardly have imagined such a sight. The college was built in the last century, modeled on the great American and British universities. It was imagined as a grand preserve of Western thought for the children of Canadian settlers, then flooding into the country’s youngest province in the prairies. Indigenous students were not banned, but they were not welcomed either. Now, all that has changed. The powwow graduation in May was one example of how universities across Canada are “indigenizing” — a new, elastic term that means everything from drawing more aboriginal students and faculty members onto campuses built largely for white settlers, to infusing those stodgy Western institutions with aboriginal belief systems and traditional knowledge. While sporadic efforts on many campuses took root decades ago, a true campaign was set off by the Canadian commission that looked into residential schools and their abuses against indigenous children.
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