New Indigenous Studies program at York U dares to be different


TORONTO, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 – York University’s new Indigenous Studies program, launched today, will give students the opportunity to engage with Indigenous ceremonies, choose experiential knowledge courses that will enable them to study an Indigenous language or work with traditional knowledge keepers to learn about land-based knowledge and cultural practices.

The new program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies will take Indigenous Studies into realms not usually explored. In addition to looking at the multiple issues faced by Indigenous communities across Canada and globally, the program will also focus on Métis perspectives, on urban and non-status Native people and on Native-Black relations, and the identities and experiences of Black Indigenous people, in Canada and across the Americas

“York is known as a progressive and engaged University committed to the social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being of the communities we serve. Our new Indigenous Studies program reflects that vision, and is a central component of our reconciliation efforts based on the values of social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton. “Intersectional and innovative in its approach, the program will deepen important connections with Indigenous students, faculty and staff at York, as well as the Indigenous community and Indigenous knowledge more broadly.”

Of the many courses available in the program, students can learn about the roles of Indigenous women, their stories and rituals; a focus on treaties and the Indian Act, the relationship between racism and colonialism, about residential school and struggles around education, as well as courses on First Nations music, cinema and literature.

“This is an exciting time for us.  We are very proud to have a program that promotes cultural knowledge for Indigenous students while enabling non-Natives to understand both the realities of colonial oppression in Canada, and the strength and values of First Nations communities,” said Bonita Lawrence, Indigenous Studies Program Coordinator.

The development and launch of the new Indigenous Studies program is part of the reconciliation process and calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the recently developed Indigenous Framework for York University: A Guide to Action.

Integral to the Framework is the need to engage Indigenous students, faculty, staff within the University and communities outside of York to help enrich teaching, learning and research. The new program will help address the calls in the Framework to expand Indigenous programming and curricular offerings which explore Indigenous life, cultures and traditions; enhance the recruitment and academic success of Indigenous students; and engage with Indigenous communities to enrich the learning process; and more.

York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Through cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design, diverse experiential learning and a supportive community environment, our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni.

York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact:
Yanni Dagonas, York University Media Relations, 647-468-7850,