Students from Indigenous Institutes in
Ontario are helping design the future of community-driven post-secondary education
at the Our Community, Our Choice conference in Toronto Feb. 6-7.
“The Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills
Council (IAESC) was created to provide quality assurance to this new and
important pillar and students are uniquely qualified to guide this work,” said
Laurie Robinson, chairwoman and executive director of the Council.
The two-day event organized by IAESC welcomes
representatives from among the nine Indigenous Institutes from across the
province. The conference begins next Wednesday afternoon at the Westin Prince
Hotel with an opening traditional ceremony. The evening features a welcoming
dinner with entertainment provided by Adrian Sutherland, a language keeper
among the Mushkegowuk Cree of James Bay and Midnight Shine band member.
Robinson said the insight and perspective of
Indigenous Institute students is vital to shaping the standards for the
Council’s quality assurance and accreditation process.
“We are at a new time in Indigenous
post-secondary education and training in Ontario,” Robinson said, noting it’s
been a difficult journey to get to this juncture where Indigenous control of
Indigenous education is possible. “We have never been here before and the students
themselves are vital to the building process.”
On Thursday, the conference moves to the
Evergreen Brickworks beginning with a sunrise ceremony while the day of
workshops kicks off with inspirational words from Ashley Callingbull, a Plains
Cree role model from Enoch First Nations. Facilitators are Erin Dokis, a
post-secondary educator from Dokis First Nation and Perry McLeod Shabogesic,
IAESC’s cultural advisor from Nipissing First Nation.
The goal of the first-ever gathering of its
kind is to learn from the students what an “ideal” post-secondary experience
must include. What do they value? What do they need to fulfill their role in
making their families and community the best it can possibly be?
Back at the Westin Prince for closing
ceremonies and dinner, the event concludes with students sharing their thoughts
before entertainment that includes Sagkeeng’s Finest performing their
award-winning dance and DJ NDN (Ian Campeau, a co-founder of the Juno
Award-winning Tribe Called Red and also from Nipissing First Nation) providing
unique musical stylings. Lisa Charleyboy, Tsilhgot’in from Tsi Deldel First
Nation and award-winning story teller, is MC for the evening’s entertainment.
The Indigenous Advanced Education
and Skills Council, an independent not-for-profit corporation created through
provincial legislation, is the accreditation organization for Indigenous
Institutes to grant certificates, diplomas and degrees.
The Council uses a quality
assurance process steered by its Quality Assessment Board, which sets standards
approved by the Council. Assisting quality assurance in Ontario is the World
Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. WINHEC is providing IAESC use
of its framework accreditation process and access to its expertise through a
memorandum of understanding agreement signed during its annual general meeting
held in Norway in August 2018. See the story at our website www.iaesc.ca
Members of IAESC's founding board
of directors includes Pamela Toulouse, PhD, the late Delbert Horton and Bob
Watts with Laurie Robinson the chair and executive director. The Council's Quality
Assessment Board members include Kali Storm, Laura Horton and T'hohahoken
Michael Doxtator, PhD.