As part of the Government of Canada’s Global Skills Opportunity program, universities are offering students—including Indigenous students—the chance to develop cultural intelligence, global awareness and to learn about Indigenous Peoples around the world. Below are a few examples of such programs.
Indigenous cultures in Belize
The four Canadian universities who make up the Maple League (Acadia University, Mount Allison University, Bishop’s University and St. Francis Xavier University) joined together to create an international mobility program called Nation to Nation: Building Indigenous Knowledge Across International Borders. Under the program, 11 Indigenous students from Canada travelled to Belize in May 2022 to explore local Indigenous cultures.
Offered through a partnership with Galen University in Belize and guided by an Indigenous Elder, students learned about language preservation, Indigenous governance, the environment, land rights, Indigenous innovations and cultural heritage. They also experienced local foods, communities and cultural sites, and heard from knowledgeable guest speakers.
Exploring new horizons
Under their international mobility program, New Horizons, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario is offering Indigenous and low-income students the opportunity to participate in short-term and one-semester study abroad courses and programs with partner universities in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, Mexico and Norway. Through a series of courses and land-based learning experiences, participants will develop cultural intelligence and expand their knowledge of issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples globally.
Ainu, Nepalese and Maori societies
To increase Indigenous student participation in study abroad, the University of Calgary is addressing common financial, cultural and contextual barriers they face. The university’s new program, Global Indigenous Skills (GIS), is focused on facilitating positive and meaningful global learning experiences for Indigenous students and enhancing students’ experiences with Indigenous societies around the world.
As part of the program, students have gone to Hokkaido, Japan to explore community development undertaken by the Ainu Indigenous people and the historical transition of the Ainu-Japanese relationship. Another group of students participated in a virtual group study program in Nepal, where they worked closely with Nepalese scholars, practitioners and community leaders and toured important cultural and historical sites from home to understand key social and development issues in the country. A future GIS program will send students to New Zealand, home to the Indigenous Maori people.
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