Should it be a mandatory class?
“Lets make Indigenous Studies a requirement for graduation in all programs here at the University of Regina and around Canada,” said Julianne Beaudin-Herney.
Back in Nov. 10 2011, a petition started to go around the University of Regina. The goal of this petition, entitled, Student Initiative to Change On-Campus systemic racism, was to end systematic racism through making Indigenous Studies a mandatory class in the University of Regina using the voice of the students. Beaudin-Herney is the creator of the students’ initiative to help change systematic racism in U of R.
A support petition was also designed to allow any high school student, high school teachers, university professors, SIAST students, and employees of any business or corporation to sign this petition in support of such a movement. Petitions were also sent out to Aboriginal organizations such as Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), The Circle Project, Regina Treaty Status Indian Services, and to the reserve areas.
Furthermore, all universities across Canada also received this petition on Feb. 1, 2013. The petition circulating all across Canada is expected to take around 5 years, said Beaudin-Herney, in a video on the U of R blog. Once this petition reaches students outside of Saskatchewan, it is up to those students to spread awareness of this petition and to get supporters. When, and if, this motion is passed at the U of R, it is expected to expand all across Canada.
This petition has been receiving both positive and negative feedback from students and professors thus far. There are many students and professors, such as First Nations University (FNU) President Doyle Anderson,who believes that by educating ourselves we can move forward in society in a harmonious way and we can understand and come into terms with our history.
Others, like Josh Dehaas, a journalist from the University of British Colombia, expresses some concerns in his Maclean’s article, ‘Why Indigenous Studies shouldn’t be mandatory.’
“Indigenous Studies is fine as an elective, but for many, it would be a waste of time and money. Above all, it’s wrong to force students to take classes focused on one minority’s history,” said Josh Dehaas.
Beaudin-Herney is aware of such concerns, but this will not stop her from pursuing her goal.
“Some of the resistance is concerned that it is going to be made a forceful type of education, they don’t have a choice, they don’t want to admit there is a problem with racism here in Saskatchewan… but I’m willing to help change that and help people understand that we want to change to make a better Canada.”
There were a lot of rallies, awareness, and promotion of the petition going on around campus when the idea first originated back in Nov. 2011. There was also despicable racist backlash, predictably, such as swastikas drawn on the public petitions.
However, things seem to have quieted down for some time now.
Beaudin-Herney was contacted for comment, but she did not reply before the Carillon went to press.
The circulation of the petition around Canada is expected to take nearly five years. There haven’t been any updates or additional information on the future plans of this movement.
The Carillon will continue to cover this story as it unfolds.