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New partnership showcases Indigenous students’ research

December 15, 2015
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More than 120 guests attended the first SFU/UBC Indigenous Graduate Symposium, “Indigenizing the Academy,” at SFU’s downtown campus last March.

The event kicked off a four-year pilot partnership between the two universities to co-host and co-sponsor this event showcasing Indigenous students’ research and scholarship. For the past 12 years, the event has been hosted solely by UBC.

The symposium featured keynote speaker David Newhouse, chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Trent University, and keynote respondents Ethel Gardner of SFU and Amy Parent of UBC. Parent is now an SFU education professor.

William Lindsay, director of SFU’s Office for Aboriginal Peoples, says the symposium was also a cultural day.

“A traditional ‘witnessing ceremony’ opened and closed the event,” he says. “There were First Nations elders and cultural advisors attending. The day also featured drumming and traditional cedar brushing/cleansing.”

According to official SFU Institutional Research and Planning data, the University has more than 130 Indigenous graduate students. Ten participated in the symposium.

Cheryl Inskter, a master’s student in counseling psychology in the Faculty of Education, helped plan last year’s event.

“Being a part of the IGS planning committee helped me gain valuable experience in planning a symposium,” she says.

“The symposium peaked my interest in areas that I wish to explore as a graduate student. The experience also allowed me to build connections that made me feel a sense of belonging in my first year at SFU as a graduate student.”

This story also appears in the December 2015 issue of SFU News, Aboriginal Edition