(Mount Saint Vincent University/Instagram)

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

Port Alberni soapbox derby has new track

Lower Argyle Street will be open to racers under six

Vehicle catches fire near China Creek Marina

No injuries in blaze, according to witnesses

North Island College issues brief statement on bomb threat

Threat forced college to close all campuses for one day

Premier wades into fishery closure debate

John Horgan questions the federal government’s approach

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Non-union construction industry fears exclusion in B.C.

Premier John Horgan imposes ‘project labour agreements’ for public works

Trump, Putin sit down a bit late for closely watched summit

Trump and Putin arrived Monday at Helsinki’s presidential palace for a long-awaited summit.

In TV interview, Trump claims queen called Brexit ‘complex’

Asked the queen’s view on Brexit, Trump said: “She said it’s a very complex problem.”

Exotic corpse flower begins to emit its putrid scent at Vancouver conservatory

A unique and exotic tropical plant, acclaimed for its size and abhorred for its smell, is blooming at a Vancouver conservatory.

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in June were down 10.7 per cent compared with a year ago.

Tens of thousands give heroes’ welcome to Croatia team

Euphoria gave way to a mixture of disappointment and pride for Croatia fans after their national team lost to France in its first ever World Cup final.

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Most Read