A Year of Growth and Change in the F.N.S.P.

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The First Nations Studies Program (FNSP) has seen another successful year of growth, development, and positive change. We are happy to announce the addition of a fourth scholar to our core faculty. Sheryl Lightfoot is Keweenaw Bay Anishinaabe and will be joining us from the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. Sheryl specializes in international relations, with a focus on Indigenous rights movements. We are sure that she will be an invaluable asset to FNSP. Dory Nason, Leech Lake Chippewa, and Glen Coulthard, Yellowknives Dene, just completed their first year as new faculty, specializing, respectively, in Indigenous literary theory and Aboriginal politics. In addition to FNSP 310, Theory Seminar, and FNSP 320, Research Methods, Dory will be teaching ENG 476, a course on Indigenous Literature. Glen will be instructing FNSP 200, our introductory course, as well as, POLI 406, Aboriginal Peoples and Canadian Politics. Sheryl will be co-instructing the FNSP 400 Research Practicum with Linc Kesler, and teaching POLI 333, Global Indigenous People’s Politics. New FNSP faculty, in addition to existing faculty members Linc Kesler and Susan Roy and researchers Amy Perreault and Karrmen Crey, presented at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association conference this past May in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This relatively new international association is growing rapidly, and UBC was well represented in the presentations.

Candis Collison, a Tahltan scholar who is completing a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and specializes in the representation of scientific issues in media and politics, also joins the Arts faculty this year and will teach in the Graduate School of Journalism and other Arts programs. Deena Rymhs, who specializes in Aboriginal and women’s literature, will also be teaching in the English Department and the Women’s Studies Program. With the addition of these and other recent hires in History and English, the Arts Faculty is building a new generation of specialists in Indigenous areas to add to the list of established scholars in other fields such as Anthropology and Linguistics. This will certainly result in more and better options for undergraduate students in First Nations Studies and Arts. Greater opportunities will also exist for Indigenous graduate scholars, as last year nine more Indigenous graduate students joined various Arts departments. A new association open to graduate students and other scholars working on Indigenous topics was also initiated by two graduate students from the History Department. With these developments at the faculty and graduate level, and the undergraduate research opportunities found in FNSP and elsewhere, we can look forward to seeing even more vital research on Indigenous issues coming forth from the Faculty of Arts.

Each year, the First Nations Studies Program is involved in a number of special projects and initiatives, and in student projects that occur within program course work. This year, one of our main initiatives is the Indigenous Foundations website. This website is designed to assist students, researchers, and the broader public in investigations of key topics related to Aboriginal histories, peoples, and cultures in British Columbia, in Canada, and other parts of the world. This new resource will integrate the use of advanced technology to provide a clearer understanding of key issues affecting Aboriginal people and communities. Joining us in this project is UBC alumna Erin Hanson, who will continue to work on this resource in the coming months.

Our other main initiative, What I Learned In Class Today, uses digital video to present student experiences of difficult interactions surrounding Aboriginal issues in the classroom. This project has seen great growth over the past year, which culminated in a student symposium, where Karrmen Crey and Amy Perreault presented some new material and heard great feedback from the UBC community, and at a presentation at the aforementioned NAISA conference. Third year student Angela Lee joined us to work on the project in January. She will continue to work with the program and on this particular project in the coming school year.

During the 2008-09 academic year FNSP had the pleasure of hosting a diverse range of prominent speakers such as Inuit political leader Mary Simon, Native Women’s Association of Canada president Beverley Jacobs, and contemporary visual artist Dana Claxton. FNSP also co-hosted its first “Beyond Your Major Night” with the Department of Anthropology. Watch for FNSP hosted events and guest speakers in the coming year.

While we will be retaining many familiar faces at FNSP we will also be seeing some changes. Susan Roy has returned to Toronto and will no longer be teaching at UBC. We will miss her presence and invaluable experience in the fields of history and land claims research. However, Susan will continue to remain involved with the Indigenous Foundations project.

In our FNSP main office Jie Ie Baik will join us as the new FNSP Program Assistant. She will be taking over for Min Han who is sadly leaving the program. We would like to thank Min for all of her exceptional contributions to the program over the past three years.

Tanya Bob will be returning to her position as the Practicum Coordinator and Student Advisor. She will thus be here to answer your questions about the program and to assist you in planning courses for major and minor concentrations. Please help us welcome Tanya back by stopping in to say hello! Amy Perreault will continue to work with FNSP and the Arts Faculty in advising and special projects.

Karrmen Crey will also continue her involvement with projects and FNSP initiatives. Karrmen’s role in the program over the past five years has been critical to its growth and development. Jordan Wilson will also continue to work in the program for the coming year. He will be available to help fellow FNSP students with video and video-editing for their projects, and to answer any other questions they may have.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that this year’s successes would not have been possible without the direction and leadership of FNSP Director, Dr. Linc Kesler. We are especially proud of him for receiving the 2008-2009 Dean of Arts Award. He has been commended for his devotion to teaching and to fostering a university-wide dialogue on Aboriginal issues and awareness. We are continually appreciative of Linc’s hard work, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the efforts put forth by our students. We look forward to another great year ahead! Please join us in our classes and events and stop by for a visit and a chat.

Please visit the First Nations Studies Program website at http://fnsp.arts.ubc.ca/.