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Indigenous students to share worldwide wisdom

The 2019 Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program is now accepting applications.

2018 Matariki Dartmouth group visiting Tantaquidgeon Museum at Mohegan Nation
The 2018 Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program (MISMP) group visits Tantaquidgeon Museum at Mohegan Nation. (Supplied Photo)

Students from five international universities will have the opportunity to gather at Queen’s for an immersive, two-week program designed to encourage learning, sharing, and discussion of issues faced by Indigenous communities worldwide. Marking its fourth annual event, the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Programme (MISMP) will centre this year’s discussions on how colonialism has and continues to affect Indigenous learning, language, and land, as well as how communities have remained resilient in the face of these challenges.

“In spite of centuries of colonial oppression, Indigenous communities around the world continue to live their cultures, honour their lands, speak their languages, and educate their young people,” says Lindsay Morcom, Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Education and MISMP faculty lead at Queen’s. “This program provides students opportunities to share their knowledge, engage global peers in deeply meaningful ways, and participate in activities that are about authentically engaging Indigenous ways of knowing, understanding, doing, and honouring. MISMP is not a learning experience about decolonization, but one that is, in itself, an exercise in decolonization.”

Queen’s students, as well as student visitors from Dartmouth College (U.S.), the University of Western Australia, the University of Otago (New Zealand), and Durham University (UK), will participate in a variety of experiential learning opportunities with Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee communities local to Eastern Ontario, connecting with the history and current lived experiences of the people. A number of land-based activities will see students visit nearby Indigenous historic sites, and during classroom sessions they will hear from faculty experts who are conducting Indigenous research both here at Queen’s and abroad.

“Queen’s is very fortunate to have a number of professors and graduate students with expertise in a wide array of Indigenous studies,” says Dr. Morcom.  “Our deep community connections also allow us to engage knowledge keepers and elders with sophisticated understanding of learning, language, and land from Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe perspectives, and our relationships through the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) will continue to nurture international collaborations, partnerships, and friendships for our students and faculty.”

Dartmouth College hosted last year’s MISMP and during the event’s closing ceremony members of the Abenaki First Nation – the Indigenous community nearest to Dartmouth College – presented a rare stone said to embody the spirit of the gathering and the MNU to Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Queen’s Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation).

“Gifting is a very important element of many, if not most, Indigenous cultures,” says Ms. Hill. “These sorts of similarities in experience demonstrate exactly why programs like MISMP are important. So much can be learned when we seek out those things that link us together as individuals and communities. This exchange of knowledge has the potential to empower, equip, and embolden Indigenous communities in our pursuit for positive change.”

In November 2018, Ms. Hill was appointed to the inaugural position of Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), following recommendations put forth by the university’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force in 2017.

“The creation of the office I now occupy is just one example of the increasing importance Queen’s is placing on Indigenous perspectives in the post-secondary sector,” says Ms. Hill. “I think our students and faculty will serve as a shining example of how Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation can be approached in the university sector, and I look forward to sharing and learning from our MISMP guests.

“Research, academics, Indigenization, decolonization, reconciliation; these are all preceded by and tied to our relationships. Opportunities like MISMP help us build new connections and partnerships, and ultimately allow us to accomplish so much more."

The fourth-annual MISMP will run from June 23 to July 6, 2019. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students interested in participating can visit the website to apply.