Author: Editor Ed News

National Truth and Reconciliation Week message from the dean

As many of you know, this week is National Truth and Reconciliation Week. The University of Regina is honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which takes place on Friday, September 30, by closing so that students, staff, and faculty can find ways to respectfully honour the children who never returned home and the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, as well as their families and communities.

The Faculty of Education has collectively committed to work to ensure that we and others who join us in learning gain a deeper understanding of our shared histories and contemporary relationships. We hope that everyone we collaborate with understands that decolonization, Indigenization, and reconciliation are our collective responsibilities.

As the Honourable Murray Sinclair said: “Education is what got us into this mess—the use of education at least in terms of residential schools—but education is the key to reconciliation.” Education is the first step to understand the truth, which is necessary if we as non-Indigenous people have any hope that we might be able to repair the relationships that centuries of bad faith have damaged.

If you are uncertain how you might honour the survivors and pay respect to the lives stolen from their families and communities you can begin by wearing orange on September 30th to honour the survivors of residential school and those who never returned home. It is a first step.

You can read, listen, and learn about the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in your region and learn about the many contributions they have made to your community, the Province and the nation. It is a second step.

You can spend time with the resources and archives available from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) by visiting either: https://nctr.ca/ or https://archives.nctr.ca/
The NCTR is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations. It is one more step in the right direction.

These are three small steps that are only part of a longer journey that allows us to know and understand the truth, and hopefully they set us on a path to make good on the promises we collectively made to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples to live in peace and friendship.

You can also show your support for this important day by attending a local event. The University of Regina has compiled a list of local events: https://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/feature-stories/current/2022/09-26.html

Dr. Jerome Cranston
Dean/Professor
Faculty of Education

Faculty Spotlight | Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, New Assistant Professor – Physical Education and Outdoor/Land-Based Education

Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, Assistant Professor in Physical Education and Outdoor/Land-Based Education. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

September spotlights continue with today’s spotlight on Dr. Jennifer MacDonald, our new Assistant Professor in Physical Education and Outdoor/Land-Based Education. As a newbie to Saskatchewan, Jennifer has been “learning more about the prairie ecology through walking and watching the sky.” Taking (and enjoying) a Cree language course is also a part of her orientation to living in Saskatchewan.

These Saskatchewan activities reflect Jennifer’s research and educational interests: “My focus is in outdoor and land-based practices with commitments also to Treaty Education. Particularly, in my classes, I endeavour to expand perceptions of wellness so that teaching and learning include the complex ecologies that we are enmeshed in as human beings.”

Ongoing goals for Jennifer include understanding her “role in conversations of truth and reconciliation, and collaborating with others to generate new knowledge and stories that approach place, teaching, learning, relations, wellness, and curriculum differently.” This work is important, says Jennifer, “to increase consideration, discussion, and education to help renew co-existence and restore right relations on shared land.”

As a Canadian of settler descent, Jennifer says, “I endeavour to take seriously guidance from Indigenous mentors who encourage me to proceed in ways that respect treaty wisdom: good relations, peaceful co-existence, and honouring the gifts. Therefore, my research interests are aimed at recognizing and unlearning the ongoing presences of colonialism and Enlightenment-based modes of knowledge and knowing and prioritizes practices to can expand and renew relationships.”

The transformative potential of educational experiences to renew and enhance relationships is the reason behind Jennifer’s passion for education. “As an educator, I am constantly learning to have more trust in the possibilities inherent in kinetic forms of learning, such that the objectives of experiences cannot be fully known in advance and require us to pay attention to the world. In this way, I believe educators and learners can learn about themselves, the stories they are a part of, to understand their relationships more deeply and even differently. Once I starting inquiring into processing of wayfinding with students, all sorts of creative expressions emerged. I am excited by the diversity of knowledge that comes into view when room is created for it and the interconnections that can be drawn through sharing stories. This form of learning gives me hope for a more sustainable and equitable future.”

A highlight in Jennifer’s research was successfully defending her doctoral dissertation in the summer of 2022. In her doctoral research, Jennifer says, “I journeyed alongside secondary school students involved in multi-day wilderness expeditions. I was interested in how students experienced and understood place-specific lifeforms. Simultaneously, as their guide, I wanted to humbly live out holistic relational teachings kindled through visits with nêyihaw Elder Bob Cardinal. Bringing these threads into dialogue helped me to generate insights toward a kinetic process of narrative mapping and to develop principles for wayfinding toward more ethical relationships.” Jennifer is excited to build on this research, inquiring into “how these principles might live in other settings and across disciplines to enliven place-specific ecologies as the living curriculum and to support educators in guiding all students towards life-sustaining relations in everyday contexts.”

Students should consider the Health, Outdoor, and Physical Education (HOPE) course of study “to develop the skills to not only design and facilitate a range of physical activities, but also to understand and enact the holistic potentials of education more broadly and to explore processes of learning that include the life of places we live with,” says Jennifer.

As advice to students, Jennifer says, “It is important to surround yourself by positive people who will push you to be your best. At the same time, seek out others who think differently than you and practice listening to their experiences in the world. Build routines and habits that will allow you to spend time outdoors as much as possible.”

Faculty Spotlight | Dr. j wallace skelton, New Assistant Professor – Queer Studies in Education

Dr. j wallace skelton, Assistant Professor in Queer Studies in Education

As our spotlight series continues, we shine light on Dr. j wallace skelton, our new Assistant Professor in Queer Studies in Education. j says that students should consider taking a course in queer and trans studies because these courses “invite us to move beyond binaries, and to expect, respect, and celebrate people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.” This movement is important because, “It’s about making classrooms safe and welcoming and celebratory for 2SLGBTQ people, refusing to see heterosexuality and cissexuality as normal—heck about refusing the idea of normal. It’s about centering the views, experiences, and knowledge of 2SLGBTQ people, and about queering and transing curriculum. For me, it means doing this informed by Queer of Colour Critique, Disability Justice, Feminism and Social Justice,” says j.

j is inspired by bell hooks’ vision of education, “as a place of community building, where love and justice are not only possible, but also necessary.” As an educator and teacher educator, j says, “I am committed to children’s rights and children’s agency, and to moving away from education as a practice where a teacher has power over students. Movements towards education as a practice of justice and abolition excite me. Our justice is tied together, and we cannot create equity for one group at a time. I see this work as intersectional: anti-racism and decolonization are essential to just education.”

The research j has done focuses on trans justice: “I believe that imposing the gender binary on all people is an act of colonialism and deeply harmful. Focusing on the needs and desires of trans people means elevating the voices of people most harmed by this imposition, and creating greater freedom for all of us. I’m particularly interested in the needs and desires of Two-Spirit, Gender Independent, Nonbinary, and Trans children. My work is about creating education spaces, families, and communities where such children are believed, safe, and valued.”

j’s personal interests reflect the work j does as a professor: “Trans justice. Queer liberation. Yes, those are also my interests at work, but my work interests have grown out of my personal experience and my communities. I’m a parent of three children, and I am deeply interested in supporting them and learning from them.”

As advice to students, j says, “Be willing to be wrong. Being wrong means taking risks. It means putting together ideas and then sharing them, allowing them to be tested by others. It means a commitment to learning and to trying again. I think it’s really hard to be wrong in public but that kind of risk taking, listening, and learning is a powerful way to learn. Ask questions. Faculty are here to support you, and we will see your questions as an indication that you are engaged, learning, and wanting answers.”

Faculty Spotlight | Dr. Xia Ji, New Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs

Dr. Xia Ji, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Today, we’re shining light on Dr. Xia Ji, our new Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Programs. In getting to know Xia, we pause to consider the identifiers often put on ta in the Canadian context: an immigrant/newcomer; an Asian/Chinese Canadian (lumped into the category of ‘BIPOC’); a woman; an English language learner; a visitor/visiting scholar, and more. Xia says, “Very few Canadians can see beyond my Asian/Chinese look and non-Canadian accent. Here are some identifiers which are less perceived by people: a daughter (to a brilliant mother); a mother (to three amazing children attending Regina Public Schools); a sister (to a most kind brother living in mainland China and to many more); an English teacher (taught English to elementary to university students in China for about 3 years); a friend and mentor (to people from various parts of the world); a citizen (of any place ta inhabits, especially of the land); a leader (including Director of Professional Development & Field Experiences for 5 years); a professor of education (14 years at the U of R); an education scholar/qualitative researcher/autoethnographer; an environmental educator (taught K-12 as well as graduate students in Minnesota from 1999 to 2007); a democracy advocator; a warrior for the human spirit; and a person who cares deeply about human development, liberation, and awakening.” At this stage of ta de life, Xia identifies as all the above, and none of the above. Xia says, “To borrow Yo-Yo Ma’s words, ‘I am constantly becoming as I move towards that which I do not yet understand each day. The result is a continuous accidental learning which constantly shapes my life.’”

In ta de work and life, Xia is passionate about and fascinated by people. This passion and fascination translates into ta de classroom context as Xia attempts to create “ethical space for various knowledge systems to come into dialogue, debate, and mutual understanding,” and “to form learning communities where we can come to know and to be known,” says Xia. “Your horizon will be expanded if you sign up!”

Xia’s passion extends to ta de research interests, which, for Xia, “are continuously evolving, but have been primarily about ecological identity/ self-realization, civic discourse, teacher education, holistic well-being, and human awakening/transformation. I value and understand research as a ‘ceremony to build stronger relationships or bridge the distance between our cosmos and us’ (Wilson, 2008). With the presence of and guidance from our Elders in Residence and Indigenous colleagues/scholars, I have come to see that Indigenous knowledge systems are vast and profound, and are not only necessary but also essential to the survival and flourishing of all life on Earth.”

As advice to students, Xia likes to pass on the words of caution ta received when ta decided to do ta de PhD: “My friend and mentor Betsy Damon (https://www.betsydamon.com/) said ‘Don’t let your PhD ruin you.’ Xia always remembers these words and says: “No matter what you study or research, also engage in self-study, get in touch with your inner curriculum, tap into the full intelligence as well as the shadows within you. Indeed, the study of self is the beginning of wisdom. After all, what we are, the world is!”

Outside of work, Xia enjoys “doing nothing, just being.” Ta practices insight meditation, and is involved in the Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) Community https://www.rc.org/ as the leader of the Mandarin RC Group for Oversea Chinese. Xia also loves reading and writing. Lately ta is immersed in reading Indigenous literature from Canada, as well as classic Chinese and Indian literature.

Indigenous games enjoyed by medical students | A new Interprofessional Health Collaborative event

Lamarr Oksasikewiyin of Sweet Grass First Nation, instructs students in Indigenous games.

First-year medical students from the newly formed University of Saskatchewan (UofS) Regina campus College of Medicine participated in their first Indigenous Health Experience, facilitated by land-based learning teacher (Kakisiwew School on Ochapowace First Nation), Lamarr Oksasikewiyin, from Sweetgrass First Nation.

Julia Billingsley and Whitney Curtis, first-year medical students, Regina campus

First-year medical student, Julia Billingsley, says, “I think this was a really great opportunity to experience Indigenous games. It’s a great way to experience the culture and it’s great that the games are being brought back and that they are being taught to this generation. I think this should continue and this event should be an annual thing.”

Student Whitney Curtis agrees, “Today was so exciting! It was a great opportunity to get involved and gain a better understanding of Indigenous culture. Like Julia said, it’s great that we are working towards reconciliation and learning more, and that there is a cultural resurgence. I’m very excited to be a part of this.”

Eriq Marleau, first-year medical student, Regina campus

“This was a great experience,” says student Eriq Marleau. “It was fun to get out on a nice day and learn a bit about Indigenous culture, about how there are similarities; some games that they played, we grew up with as well. Like the top game, Lamarr noted that it is similar among a lot of cultures, and some of the other games too, like double ball and lacrosse. It was super fun to get out and play these games and have a great afternoon.”

“Traditional games are a safe way to learn about Indigenous culture and are the foundation of modern medicine,” says Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose, Chair of the Educational Psychology and Counselling program at the University of Regina and Adjunct Faculty in the U of S College of Medicine, Regina Campus.

Dr. Sasakamoose and Amanda Crowe, the Indigenous Coordinator at the U of S College of Medicine Regina Campus, organized the inaugural event, which took place at the First Nations University campus, Treaty Four territory, on September 21, 2022.

Amanda Crowe, Indigenous Coordinator for the U of S Regina campus, and Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose, Chair of the Educational Psychology and Counselling program at the U of R and Adjunct Faculty in the U of S College of Medicine, Regina Campus.

Crowe says, “We are shaping the next generation of health care practitioners at both universities. Volunteer counselling students from the U of R education psychology program made swag bags for the new med students to welcome them.”

The event is part of the first stage of relationship building to develop the Interprofessional Health Collaborative (IHC), a partnership between the University of Regina, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the University of Saskatchewan.

Sasakamoose says, “During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, the Universities of Saskatchewan and Regina, along with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), collaborated on the development of a partnership model to co-develop a community-focused medical school at the U of S Regina Campus, including programs to assist and address community health care needs within the Treaty 4 territory. The Interprofessional Health Collaborative (IHC) was formed to implement a model to increase access to healthcare, support and ensure better patient engagement with treatment, and provide health advocacy, education, and promotion focused on the region’s healthcare needs.”

Crowe adds, “The IHC mission is regionally specific and intends to increase the recruitment of Indigenous students into STEM (K-12) and health profession careers to enhance and expand preprofessional health education opportunities and training in advanced health and wellness research.”

The IHC is responding to the TRC Calls to Action for health care (#18-24). Sasakamoose says, “Indigenous people in Canada have had to deal with disease, sickness, and starvation. History shows that we can’t count on the federal or provincial governments to provide enough support. As partners, we work together to teach students in a wide range of interprofessional programs how to better help under-served people while developing social responsibility. We provide health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, medical students, counsellors, educators and community-based peer health advocates, continuing education and training in culturally responsive, respectful ways. Utilizing traditional approaches such as land and cultural-based programming and community and relationship building, we respond directly to the TRC’s calls.”

The IHC will produce a final report informed by consultations with Indigenous people in the province, centred on the Treaty Four region. When released, the report will identify essential Indigenous health concerns and make suggestions for the region’s future Indigenous health and research agenda.

Faculty Spotlight | Claire St. Cyr-Power Interim Director of le Bac

Claire St. Cyr-Power, Interim Director, le Bac. Photo by Shuana Niessen

Aujourd’hui nous mettons en vedette une ancienne étudiante de l’Université de Regina, Claire St.Cyr-Power, qui est la nouvelle directrice par intérim du Baccalauréat en éducation française (le Bac).

Claire encourage toute personne considérant une carrière en enseignement, soit en immersion française ou en français langue maternelle, de choisir le Bac pour tous les avantages que ce programme offre aux étudiants. Entre autres, « le Bac permet aux étudiants d’utiliser et de développer leurs compétences langagières en français tout au long de leurs études », nous partage Claire. D’ailleurs, elle souligne le fait que la deuxième année du programme se passe à l’Université Laval à Québec afin de permettre aux étudiants de vivre et d’étudier dans un milieu totalement francophone. Étant elle-même diplômée du Bac, Claire a vraiment apprécié tous les cours et les expériences de stage, mais plus particulièrement cette deuxième année en milieu majoritairement francophone lorsqu’elle était étudiante.

Le développement et le perfectionnement langagier des étudiants du Bac lui tiennent grandement à cœur. Selon elle, il est primordial que les enseignants en contexte minoritaire francophone soient des modèles langagiers hors pairs pour leurs élèves. Par conséquent, elle ajoute que le temps passé à l’Université de Regina et à l’Université Laval doit être maximisé à son plein potentiel afin de bien développer et perfectionner les compétences langagières du futur enseignant.

Les études de maîtrise et la recherche entamée pour son mémoire ont permis à Claire d’explorer l’importance de la communication orale et écrite dans l’enseignement et l’apprentissage des mathématiques. Le tout a consolidé sa passion pour le développement des compétences langagières. En effet, Claire continue à explorer l’importance du développement langagier dans tous ses cours. Elle affirme que le développement des habiletés langagières ne peut pas se limiter aux cours de français, mais doit s’appliquer à l’enseignent de toutes les matières.

Si Claire avait des conseils à donner aux étudiants du Bac, elle leur dirait qu’il faut saisir toute occasion d’écouter, de lire, de parler et d’écrire en français. Elle encourage ceux qui ont le français comme langue maternelle à ne pas hésiter à partager leurs connaissances et compétences langagières avec leurs collègues. Pour ceux qui apprennent le français comme langue seconde ou additionnelle, elle souligne l’importance de ne pas avoir peur de faire des erreurs et de profiter de la rétroaction qu’ils reçoivent.

Selon Claire, le proverbe «C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron» dit tout. La pratique est la meilleure façon de développer la confiance et les compétences.

Faculty Spotlight | Dr. Michael Cappello

Dr. Michael Cappello, Acting Associate Dean of Student Services and Undergraduate Programs. Photo by Shuana Niessen

Today, our spotlight is shining on Dr. Michael Cappello, who is currently Acting Associate Dean of Student Services and Undergraduate Programs and Chair of the Elementary Education Program.

Michael teaches in Educational Core Studies (ECS), specifically in anti-racism and anti-oppressive education. Studying anti-racism/anti-oppressive education is important because, “If we acknowledge that the society that we live in is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc… what do we do we that? How do we (un)learn these things? What might it mean for the future classrooms that we teach in? Some might hear this as negative, but I want to underline that this is positive,” says Michael. He quotes Dr. Cornel West, who says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Michael adds, “These commitments to anti-oppressive education are rooted in and motivated by love.”

Decolonizing education has become Michael’s passion: “As a non-Indigenous person, over the last 5 or 6 years I have become increasingly passionate about decolonizing education, and what it means to live into the obligations of being a treaty person in this space. I think that schools can become places where we unlearn the genocidal dreams of my ancestors and begin to imagine what it might look like to live ethically here, in support of the dreams/futures/nationhood of Indigenous peoples.”

As advice to students, Michael says, “Your engagement is the single most important determinant of your learning. Never do an assignment that isn’t meaningful to you. To be clear – this isn’t an invitation to not do things, rather an invitation for you to make your work meaningful. While the instructor and the syllabus all matter, you alone have the ability to ensure that your work has meaning for you.”

Outside of work, Michael enjoys the outdoors, and tries to travel to the mountains every year.

Honoured by alumni award | Dr. Jerome Cranston

Our Faculty shows its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion by ensuring that the work we do protects Indigenous rights and the rights of minority groups, and by expanding our programming to support and serve the needs of rural and remote communities. One example of how our commitment is demonstrated is through the community-based programs we offer in partnership with local Indigenous teacher education programs, which help to address the needs of remote Saskatchewan communities for more Indigenous teachers and more access to education programs.

We are thrilled to announce that this commitment has recently been recognized by the University of Alberta, which has honoured our Dean, Dr. Jerome Cranston, with an Alumni Honour Award. The award recognizes his advocacy for racial justice and equity in the various roles he has served in throughout his career as an educator, teacher educator, and dean of our Faculty. “With imagination and innovation, Cranston is challenging the systems, values and behaviours that perpetuate discriminatory behaviour in education.” Congratulations to our dean!

Read more at https://www.ualberta.ca/alumni/recognition/alumni-awards/2022-recipients.html

Rethinking our science: Whisperings of the Land Series

You are invited to join us via Zoom for a presentation “Rethinking Our Science” by Leroy Little Bear, a Blackfoot researcher, University of Lethbridge professor emeritus, founding member of Canada’s first Native American Studies Department and recognized leader and advocate for First Nations education, rights, self-governance, language and culture. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the Officer Order of Canada, and the Alberta Order of Excellence. Leroy Little Bear’s lifetime of accomplishment includes some of the most important political achievements for Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. His dedication to education, leadership, community-building and advocacy has led to a United Nations declaration, changed the Constitution of Canada and influenced the lives of thousands of students.

Description: Every society, however it comes into existence, sooner or later, claims a territory. Within that Territory a culture arises based on the mutual relationships with the totality of the environment. This culture also comes up with an interpretive template on that reality structure. The interpretive template is what we refer to as metaphysics or paradigms. The metaphysics and paradigms determine the type of approach to science and scientific methodology. In this talk we’ll examine the metaphysics that underlie Western and Indigenous Science.

https://bit.ly/whispering1

Meeting ID: 978 8760 1397 Passcode: 829580

Spotlight on Katherine Williams – seconded lecturer, le Bac program

Aujourd’hui, nous mettons en lumière Katherine Williams. Elle est enseignante en prêt de service dans le programme du Bac. Katherine pense que les étudiants devraient envisager le programme de formation des enseignants de français, car dit-elle, « il y a tellement de possibilités d’emploi pour les diplômés en éducation française et en tant qu’enseignant.e, nous pouvons avoir un impact énorme sur nos élèves en encourageant leurs rêves pour l’avenir. »

Aider les élèves à apprendre est ce qui passionne Katherine. Elle aime particulièrement enseigner la lecture, l’écriture et les mathématiques au niveau élémentaire. Elle a récemment pris la décision de passer de l’enseignement en immersion à la formation des enseignants en français au Bac parce que, dit-elle, « Je suis passionnée par l’éducation en français des élèves de la Saskatchewan dans les écoles francophones et d’immersion. Bien que j’aime travailler avec les élèves, c’est intéressant de pouvoir avoir un impact plus large que ma propre classe élémentaire en travaillant avec des futur.e.s enseignant.e.s qui auront un jour leur propre salle de classe. »

Katherine a commencé à travailler avec des étudiants du Bac en tant qu’enseignante coopérative pour le pré-internat et a tellement aimé voir la croissance et le développement des compétences pédagogiques chez les pré-internes qu’elle s’est inspirée de se joindre à l’équipe du Bac. « En tant qu’ancienne étudiante du programme du Bac, c’est mon grand honneur de participer dans le parcours d’apprentissage des futurs enseignants en continuant la tradition d’excellence dont le programme du Bac est reconnue. J’ai hâte de partager mes expériences en tant que titulaire de classe avec les futurs enseignant.e.s et de les aider à croître et à apprendre. »

En dehors du travail, Katherine aime passer du temps avec sa famille et son chien, se promener en plein air et cuisiner.

Comme conseil aux étudiants en éducation, Katherine dit : « Soyez engagé, curieux et essayez de nouvelles choses dans votre enseignement et votre apprentissage. Rappelez-vous que nous apprenons tous en faisant des erreurs de temps en temps. Et, posez beaucoup de questions ! »