St. Mary’s University Ghost River Indigenous Knowledge Camp, Pilot Project

The Cause

We aim to create Indigenous ways of knowing, or Indigenous leadership camp in partnership with St. Mary’s First Nations knowledge keepers and elders. This pilot project will set the necessary framework to create an Indigenous Knowledge Camp for course credit which will be offered to all students as of 2016, this camp would include a course component. The camp would be structured as a laddered approach, where students would have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge by participating in a total of 3-4 camps with the goal of graduating and completing a “rite of passage”. This experience will focus on understand Indigenous ways of knowing as well as discrediting many unfounded stereotypes surrounding Aboriginal and First Nations cultures.
Canadians remain remarkably insulated from the world of Aboriginal people. As such, issues impacting Aboriginal people have gone largely unrecognized and when recognized, they have gone unaddressed. Part of the issues centers on the lack of knowledge of Aboriginal people, their perspective and their culture. This camp aims to provide the history, context and contemporary issues related to Aboriginal People in Canada. It also reveals how these issues are coupled with the development of the non-Indigenous component of Canadian society.
Today there are accurate as well as distorted images of Aboriginal people in every possible medium—from scholarly publications, textbooks, and social media, to commercial logos, insignia and imagery that pervade tourist locales through the country. Nor are the stereotypes consistent. They vary over time and range from extremely pejorative to the artificially idealistic, from historic depictions to the present day Aboriginals as mystical environmentalists. Most non-Aboriginal people get their images of Aboriginal people not from contact with “real Aboriginal people” but rather through influential medium such as newspapers, TV and movies. Misinformation abounds and inundates people at an early age.

Who Will it Benefit?

This course will benefit not only students, but our community as a whole through the ripple effect of discrediting stereotypes, and engaging with collaborative approaches to problem solving. It will address misinformed views of Aboriginal peoples and raise awareness about the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The camp will use an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the specific topics included, e.g., demography, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, political science, law, education. This type of approach will benefit students as it focuses on approaching topics from various points of view, understanding the context of situations, and becoming well-rounded, thoughtful, and compassionate members of society.

The camp will provide the participants with an understanding of how historical events have come to shape the current Aboriginal position in Canadian society as well as to how non-Aboriginal people have come to view Aboriginal people. The course also will focus on core cultural protocols, Indigenous philosophy and Indigenous ways of knowing. The course will help students develop a perspective on the complexity of Aboriginal issues.
At the end of this course, participants will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the complexities of Aboriginal Canadian issues within its history, governance and legal matters, education, economic and social issues, Arctic and northern issues and current matters in a Canadian Indigenous context.