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

Thieves steal bottles, mattress from recycle depot

Chase RCMP still investigating theft of tires, generator from commercial garage

Regional district seeks $13 million to get rolling on Rail Trail

Federal grant would pay for a paved path from Sicamous to Armstrong

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Alberta’s oil-by-rail plan a worry for Shuswap mayor

High volume of train traffic already an environmental/public safety concern

Snowplow accident leads to power surge, small claims decision

Tribunal rules Salmon Arm resident not entitled to additional compensation

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Letter: City should check out Powell River rec centre

I’ve only recently tuned in to the recreation centre debate, and while… Continue reading

Legal odd couple resolve personality conflicts in Trying

Shuswap Theatre’s latest production opens Friday, Feb. 22, runs to March 9

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Salmon Arm athletes help Team BC to podium at Canada Winter Games

Speed-skater wins bronze, ringette player contributes to playoff victory

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Okanagan man seeks glory, beer, on frozen pond

Financial advisor Randy Wilson plays in one of world’s largest pond hockey tournaments

Most Read