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Lakehead University to Mandate Indigenous Learning

Beginning in 2016, it will be mandatory for undergraduate students at Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada to take indigenous education.
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Beginning in 2016, it will be mandatory for undergraduate students at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, to take indigenous education, reports CBCNews.

Yolanda Wanakamik, coordinator of graduate and external relations with the office of aboriginal initiatives, told CBCNews that it’s part of the overall strategic plan for the university.

“The idea is that any student in an undergraduate program will graduate from Lakehead with one half credit having significant indigenous knowledge,” she said.

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Yolanda Wanakamik, who is with the office of aboriginal initiatives at Lakehead University, said the move to make indigenous studies mandatory is unique.

And the students won’t just be learning random information about First Nations, each student will learn information geared toward their area of study. Wanakamik gave an example to CBCNews, like “in natural resource management at Lakehead you will have a lot of foresters graduating that are going to have to engage First Nations communities, so they will need to understand what treaties are.”

The point of this initiative goes beyond understanding indigenous people, Wanakamik told CBCNews the university also is making the indigenous education mandatory so students can talk more openly about racism.

“There will be conversations in the classroom. Most people will be talking about stereotypes people have about indigenous people in northwestern Ontario, in fact across Canada,” she said.

Wanakamik is a former Lakehead student, and is proud of the university for doing this. “People have responded to it. People are excited. This is a boost for students,” she told CBCNews.