Indigenous Studies

What do Unceded Lands really mean? New course at SFU – Treaties in Canada – teaches colonial legislation, Indigenous leadership, and more

June 15, 2022

Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Department of Indigenous Studies introduced a new course this year titled, INDG 305: Treaties in Canada.

As a meaningful contribution to education for reconciliation, and in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, Simon Fraser University’s Department of Indigenous Studies introduced a new course this year titled, INDG 305: Treaties in Canada.

This microcredit course invites students to study the background and process of treaty negotiations alongside Indigenous oral histories, knowledge, and resistance to treaty infringements and other legislation. Students analyze the relationship between land claims, treaty rights and creation, and the impact of colonial legislation in present-day Canada.

Treaties in Canada is taught and authored by Métis scholar, Maddie Reddon, an instructor in Indigenous Studies. She is excited to teach the first course of its kind at SFU, saying, “the histories of Indigenous political leadership, land reclamation, anticolonialism, and treaty/unceded lands movements are really important!” Reddon explains: “These histories give us insight into the politics of the present but are also exciting because they offer us examples of how to wage successful decolonial and anticolonial resistance in the face of innumerable pressure.”

Reddon hopes her students will come away from this course with a deeper understanding of the importance of rights and titles for Indigenous communities while also being able to talk about such topics in an informed and critical way.

“Developing a critical consciousness around land expropriation and the politics of space is essential for doing informed research and working with Indigenous peoples and communities.”

Lara Campbell, FASS’s Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programming, Learning and Teaching, and Student Experience, credits the Department of Indigenous Studies and its Chair, Dr. Deanna Reder, for their efforts in the creation of this course. “Under the expert leadership of Dr. Deanna Reder, the Department of Indigenous Studies has worked hard to create and deliver this innovative, one-credit, online course on the history of treaties in Canada.”

Addressing one of the goals in FASS’s Reconcili-action Plan, this course is especially important for those living on and occupying Turtle Island. Reddon explains how governments have failed to address treaty responsibilities and failed at working with Indigenous nations. “I want students to understand the political stakes of these issues for Indigenous communities in the present,” she says, “and to make better personal and political decisions in regards to reconciliation. The status quo does not need to continue!”

Like all FASS Forward courses, this course is open and accessible to all students at SFU. There are no prerequisites and the course has an asynchronous structure, meaning that students can engage with course materials on their own schedule. Both Campbell and Reddon encourage all SFU students, regardless of their area of study, take this course when it is offered.

Tip: FASS Forward courses are offered during Summer semesters only.

INDG 305: Treaties in Canada is funded by SFU’s Aboriginal Strategic Initiative as part of the INDG-Online project whereby INDG courses are being made accessible for online delivery to meet requirements for an Indigenous Studies Research Certificate and/or Indigenous Studies Minor.

Madeleine Reddon

Madeleine Reddon is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and an assistant professor in the Department of English at Loyola University of Chicago. She has recently published an article in Canada and Beyond: A Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies: “Indigenous Modernism: Dehabituating Reading Practices.” Her research interests include global avant-garde and modernist literatures, Indigenous studies, critical nationalisms, and psychoanalysis.

Lara Campbell

Lara Campbell, FASS’s Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programming, Learning and Teaching, and Student Experience, is responsible for all domestic and international undergraduate student and curriculum matters, including curriculum and program development. Campbell liaises with various university entities on behalf of FASS, including Fraser International College (FIC) and SFU’s French Cohort Program in Public and International Affairs. She provides leadership for FASS regarding student enrollment, recruitment, and retention, working closely with staff in Arts Central and SFU Student Services. She coordinates the efforts of FASS Teaching Fellows, chairs the FASS Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) and serves on the SFU Senate Committee for Undergraduate Studies (SCUS), and Strategic Enrolment Management Committee (SEMC). She is a Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

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