Indigenization is a journey of discovery, a learning process that requires acceptance, courage, curiosity, and humility. The post-secondary leaders interviewed spoke at great length about the importance of learning, of taking the time to educate yourself about Canada’s history in relation to Indigenous Peoples and the issues facing Indigenous Peoples today. For example, John Boraas spoke about his desire to delve into the literature and scholarship of Indigenization, while Sherri Bell and others identified TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW as a foundational resource that significantly helped them develop a better understanding who Indigenous Peoples are.
TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW was launched at Camosun in 2009, and since then over 350 instructors, staff, and administrators have completed the program. TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW is delivered by Indigenous facilitators, face-to-face in circle gatherings and through online engagement. The five-week course (a four-hour-a-week commitment) provides insight into an Indigenous worldview, describes the impact of colonization and how it affects students attending the college today, and guides participants in the development of new teaching and learning methods.
Camosun College leaders described how TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW helped prepare them to engage in a good way in building relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities. Learning about the historical context of Indigenous Peoples’ experiences in Canada angered most leaders, but motivated them as well.
Ian Humphries was motivated to apply his skills as a project manager to this task; he noted, “Indigenization is more than just talk; it is about operationalizing it.” Ian led the development of a project plan to frame Camosun’s response to the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action. He added that adopting a project management approach to Indigenization ensures that you know who is doing what and how much that is going to cost. It is important to know that progress is being made, and that helps to ensure that the work gets done. Roadmaps are helpful from a leadership perspective.
Sherri Bell noted that it is her job to make sure things are moving forward, that the strategic pieces are in place, and that improvements are being made. The plan is the North Star, leading travellers to their destination.
The post-secondary leaders who were interviewed stressed the need for mentorship and role models in the process of Indigenization. John reflected on how Janice Simcoe has guided him over the years. Sherri mentioned the support and mentoring she received over the years as an administrator in the K–12 sectors, and how she developed relationships with new mentors and Elders at the college. Ian echoed these sentiments, stating that working with Indigenous faculty, staff, and Elders had an incredible impact on him in his learning journey.
- TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW is a SENĆOŦEN term meaning “understanding Indigenous Peoples.” ↵