Circle of Knowledge Holders created at Aurora College Elders, Indigenous staff to help steer…
April 4, 2018
With the creation of the “Circle of Knowledge Holders”, Aurora College has taken another key step in the journey towards reconciliation and implementing the applicable Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Implementing the Calls to Action and indigenizing the College are a high priority for President Jane Arychuk: “Approximately 75 percent of our student population identifies as Indigenous, and more than 90 percent are Northerners. It is vital that we are reflective of our population, and incorporate the world views, cultures, traditions, languages, and beliefs of our students and the communities we serve into both the curriculum and the way we operate.”
The Circle of Knowledge Holders is composed of NWT Elders and Knowledge Holders, Indigenous Aurora College instructors and staff, two allies with academic knowledge of this area and the College president. At the inaugural meeting in March, the Circle discussed a number of fundamental questions and issues over four days in Whitehorse, Yukon. The meeting was held in Whitehorse so Circle members could see and experience what Yukon College has accomplished to date in its own reconciliation journey.
Seven different topics were examined and discussed. They included:
- What Aurora College has undertaken and accomplished so far – “A President’s Journey”;
- A review of Indigenization actions and paths at other Canadian post-secondary institutions;
- Considerations for moving forward – “The Shaping Influences of ‘A Capable Person:’ A Narrative Research of Elders’ Stories of Raising Children to Inform Aboriginal Education in the Northwest Territories”, presented by Dr. Angela James, Metis ;
- A sharing of Yukon College’s reconciliation journey, presented by Tosh Southwick, Executive Director, First Nation Initiatives and School of Academic Skill Development, Yukon College;
- Sharing of thoughts by members of the Circle that will help Aurora College move forward towards reconciliation;
- Discussion of next steps – “What goes in our canoe? What will support us?”; and
- Discussion regarding where Aurora College would like to be and should be in ten years.
In addition, Circle of Knowledge Holders members identified some essential steps to move the process forward, including the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Council, developing a consistent plan for Elders on the campuses and in the community learning centres, and providing the opportunity for the Circle to come back together to provide input into where its work and recommendations would be most valuable as the College considers its next Strategic Plan.
President Arychuk says she is impressed and excited by the contributions of the Circle of Knowledge Holders members so far, and looks forward to implementing current and future recommendations. She adds, “Integrating Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous traditions into Aurora College is not an add-on or something that is ‘nice to do’; it is a huge part of who we are. The Circle of Knowledge Holders will help ensure that any steps we take are authentic and relevant for our students, staff and communities.”