Building Capacity for Indigenization

Leanne 4

As an undergrad, Leanne Joe (nee Julian) found her calling supporting the Indigenization of University of the Fraser Valley. Her dedication to that effort was recognized with a British Columbia Lieutenant Governor-General’s Award, which cited Leanne’s commitment to honour Indigenous voices in her projects and course curriculum.

Today, Leanne is back at UFV to continue the work.

Leanne earned her Bachelor of General Studies in 2019 and her Bachelor of Education in 2022, along with an Indigenous Maps, Films, Rights and Land Claims Certificate and her graduate certificate in Halq’eméylem. Leanne has joined UFV’s Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) in a contract position as an Indigenous Curriculum Developer. The TLC provides professional development, curriculum support, and resources to UFV’s faculty and staff. Leanne assists Lorna Andrews (BA ’06, MEd ‘08), in supporting UFV’s Indigenization efforts.

“I’m still learning a lot,” says Leanne. “Co-creating what this role is, and what it could be.”

There’s no shortage of work to do. Honouring Indigenous knowledge at all touchpoints of learning is a commitment of UFV’s Integrated Strategic Plan. To support this work, the TLC, where Leanne works, sees frequent requests for support by staff and faculty. They reach out to the TLC to learn how to Indigenize their practices.

A key element to the work in the TLC is to assess where faculty and staff are positioned in their Indigenous learning journeys. To do this, Leanne developed a self-assessment survey that is filled out in advance of initial meetings with the UFV community, allowing Leanne and Lorna to better understand how best to help individuals or groups.

But that isn’t the survey’s only benefit.

“There’s a question that asks how comfortable you are sharing your knowledge with others, or how comfortable you are talking about what you know with an Indigenous person,” explains Leanne. “We want to know if you are willing to be a peer mentor for somebody beginning their Indigenization journey.”

This mentorship program is an idea that they hope will increase the university’s capacity for Indigenization.

The questionnaire may seem a small step forward, but Leanne’s goal is to open the survey to all staff and faculty, with the hope that respondents can use the questions to self-reflect, to find ways to improve, or to step forward as mentors. And as part of her work today, Leanne is exploring ways to increase capacity to support these efforts.

“This survey something that we want to be available for all staff to do at any time they want, says Leanne. “They can redo it. And maybe they’ll feel like they’ve improved.” In the meantime, Leanne will continue to work towards stronger Indigenization at UFV through offering instruction in Halq’eméylem in the fall.

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