Nov. 22, 2021

New UCalgary project ramps up global learning opportunities for Indigenous undergrads

Global Indigenous Skills aims to enhance students’ experiences in Ainu, Nepalese, Maori, and other Indigenous societies
663highland, Wikimedia Commons

University of Calgary is investing in global skills for Indigenous students.

UCalgary’s Global Indigenous Skills (GIS) project aims to cultivate leadership, identity awareness and global networks related to Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Funded by the Global Skills Opportunity program, a Government of Canada outbound mobility pilot, the GIS will enable the development of Indigenous-focused global learning opportunities for UCalgary undergraduate students over five years.

Increase study abroad opportunities

Indigenous students, underrepresented in study abroad, face not only greater financial barriers to international study, but also specific cultural and contextual barriers. GIS aims to increase participation of Indigenous students in study and work abroad opportunities. It will do so by leveraging UCalgary’s International Indigenous Studies program, the only Indigenous Studies program in Canada to have an explicit focus on Indigeneity around the world.

GIS will also enhance intercultural capacity building and support services through partnership with UCalgary Writing Symbols Lodge’s Youth Leadership programming, and the strategic direction of ii’taa’poh’to’p.  All of this will come together to facilitate a positive and meaningful global learning experience for Indigenous students.

Dr. Daniel Voth, academic director of UCalgary’s International Indigenous Studies program, says: “There is incredible vibrancy to Indigenous intellectual traditions in Canada and around the world.  What I’m most excited about is that Indigenous students at UCalgary will be able to share their Nations’ intellectual traditions with Indigenous peoples in other parts of the globe, and in turn will learn about the brilliance in Ainu, Nepalese, Maori and other Indigenous societies.”

In spring of 2022, students in the following programs will receive funding, with higher amounts available for Indigenous participants, participants with disabilities and low income participants:

Community Building Through Meaningful Collaboration group study program in Japan

With a focus on Social/Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies, this experiential learning opportunity in Hokkaido, Japan explores the community development undertaken by the Ainu Indigenous people in the northern island province of Japan. The program also facilitates understanding of the historical transition of the Ainu-Japanese relationship and meaningful collaborations of Ainu and non-Ainu (Japanese) people to build a vibrant community. Learn more.

Community and Sustainable Development in Nepal virtual group study program

On this virtual group study program in Nepal, students work closely with Nepalese scholars, practitioners, and community leaders to develop an understanding of key social and community development issues impacting the country. Students will have the opportunity to virtually tour local historical, environmental, and cultural sites and community development agencies from the comfort of their home, and will participate in experiential activities that offer hands-on cultural immersion. Learn more

Additional GIS programs in development include a 2023 group study program to New Zealand that will be led by Dr. Jennifer Leason, associate professor, anthropology and archaeology, and an Anishinaabe academic, as well as research, work and service learning placements in partnership with the University of Auckland, Curtin University and University of Tasmania.

“By connecting with our communities abroad, UCalgary develops engaged, globally competent citizens who discover and translate new knowledge and skills into innovative applications to succeed in a changing labour market,” says Dr. Cheryl Dueck, senior academic director (international). “Global learning experiences enable students to create bridges between knowledge and practice, develop intercultural capacity through their thinking, skills and attitudes, and provide exposure to international networks and diverse learning environments.”

UCalgary’s 2020-2025 Global Engagement Plan commits to providing 50 per cent of undergraduate students with at least one international learning or intercultural capacity-building experience before graduation. GIS will strengthen this strategic goal and widen access and equity to our Indigenous students, as well as low-income students and students with disabilities.

An integral component of the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy, Global Skills Opportunity will provide thousands of postsecondary students with invaluable international study and work experiences, strengthening their global skills and competencies. Global Skills Opportunity is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, and jointly administered by Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada. This program is designed to encourage low-income students, students with disabilities and Indigenous students to participate in study and work abroad programming. It is also an important step towards achieving Canada’s trade diversification goals and strengthening international networks.