For the first time ever, Memorial University is playing host to meetings by a countrywide organization dedicated to ensuring the concerns of aboriginal students across Canada are heard by institutions of higher learning.
The National Aboriginal Student Services Association is holding its executive fall meeting on the St. John’s campus from Dec. 7-8, 2006. The event is being hosted by Memorial’s Faculty of Education.
The group plays a vital role in ensuring institutions of higher learning create welcoming environments for aboriginal people to pursue educational goals while maintaining their cultural identities. The association became an official division of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) in 2003.
Executive board members from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, as well as this province, are attending the meetings, which will represent various aboriginal groups from across the country.
“The National Aboriginal Student Services Association was developed by and for aboriginal peoples in higher education due to the under-representation of aboriginal staff, students, faculty and administration within post-secondary institutions,” said Bernadette Power, co-ordinator of Aboriginal Teacher Education Programs at Memorial and a member of the association’s executive. The lack of culturally appropriate services and/or under resourced services was the common element that brought this group together. We wish to create a larger foundation of teaching, research and community service at post-secondary institutions that places indigenous knowledge, languages and worldviews on a level and equal playing field.”
Ms. Power said during the two-day meetings at Memorial the group will plan for upcoming events including the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services’ 2008 conference which will take place at Memorial. As well the executive will update members on new aboriginal initiatives on their campuses across the country. And, on Friday, an Inuit cultural workshop led by the Nippik Drum Dancers will take place.
Ms. Power said that in addition to the Faculty of Education, the President’s Office, as well as the Office of the Associate Vice-president (Academic) and the dean of Student Affairs and Services are supporting next week’s meeting.