|Indigenous Elders-in-Residence Program
|First Nations House of Learning
Rationale: Indigenous Elders have a very respected and honoured place in Indigenous societies. An Indigenous Elder is someone who has cultural knowledge and wisdom to share with learners. Elders take on mentorship and teaching roles in Indigenous families and communities. Because of the proven positive impact of Elders' cultural mentoring and their instruction, British Columbia post-secondary institutions have Elders-In-Residence programs where Indigenous Elders are available to students, faculty and staff for mentorship and teaching purposes (i.e. British Columbia Institute of Technology, University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University). Based on limited funding, the First Nations House of Learning at UBC has had various forms of an Elder-In-Residence Program.
The Indigenous programs and initiatives at UBC would like to offer an expanded Elders-In-Residence Program during the 2006-07 academic year. There are a number of initiatives and courses planned such as an Aboriginal Languages and Literacy Institute (ALLI) during July 2006; Indigenous graduate student workshops and symposium; the SAGE program (Supporting Aboriginal Graduate Enhancement), Native Indian Teacher Education Program student courses and workshops; and Faculty of Arts First Nations studies courses. All these Indigenous academic initiatives span the various faculties at UBC. They could benefit from having Indigenous Elders speak to their classes and provide individual mentorship to students. Many research studies have recommended the inclusion of Aboriginal knowledge through interaction with Elders as an important factor to improve the retention and success of Aboriginal postsecondary students (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996).
Methods: The First Nations House of Learning will coordinate the Elders-in-Residence Program. They will convene a steering committee comprised of student and faculty representatives from Faculties/departments/institutes across the campus. A plan will be agreed upon regarding the students' learning, cultural, spiritual, and emotional needs and the process of selecting appropriate Elders who could provide instruction and mentorship.
The Elders-in-Residence Program will include opportunities for Elders to talk to students, individually, or in groups. The Elders could speak to a class or they may facilitate an interactive workshop. With permission, some of the class lectures and presentations will be video-taped. These video taped sessions could be made into dvd programs and clips could be posted on a web site. A copy of the students' learning projects (with their permission) derived from the Elders-in-Residence Program will be housed in the First Nations House of Leaming Library, Xwi7xwa, so that others may learn from them.
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Richard Vedan, First Nations House of Learning