Two University of Alberta certificates offered by the faculty of native studies have undergone a name change to better reflect current practice and usage.
Both the embedded and stand-alone certificates in Aboriginal Governance and Partnership will be renamed “Indigenous Governance and Partnership” starting in March and July respectively of this year. The faculty of native studies has already reflected the name change on their website. The certificates have been offered at the U of A since 2008.
The change was approved unanimously at the academic planning committee of General Faculties Council (GFC), the body in charge of academic and student affairs on January 15. According to documents supporting the name change, submitted by the faculty of native studies, the change is better for Indigenous people, students, and the U of A as a whole.
“The proposal to change the term ‘Aboriginal’ to ‘Indigenous’ emulates current practices and usage,” the documents read. “The use of the term Indigenous allows for the ability to compare elements at the international level.”
“This proposal aligns the terminology with current usage at the U of A and internationally. This includes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, the term ‘Indigenous’ is applied in the discipline of Indigenous Studies more broadly, as reflected by the discipline’s academic community, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.”
According to the documents, the name change will help both students and other stakeholders to view the faculty of native studies as being “a leader in post-secondary education as it relates to Indigeneity locally and globally.”
Students currently enrolled in either certificate will receive the new name on their parchment. Additionally, students or alumni who have already completed the certificate in the past can apply to receive a new version of the parchment with the amended name.
The name change was studied internally by the core instructors of the program for the past two years. It was also presented, discussed, and ultimately approved at the Academic Affairs and Faculty Council. The Faculty Council for native studies includes student representatives from both Native Studies Students’ Association and Aboriginal Student Council.
The motions were presented to the GFC subcommittee by Shalene Jobin, associate professor and director of the Indigenous Governance and Partnership Program. She said the change is “exciting” and will better reflect the discipline as a whole.
During the presentation, vice-provost and university registrar Melissa Padfield asked Jobin if there will be similar name changes to other certificates offered by the U of A to ensure consistency.
Jobin said the hope is to get all certificates under one set of terminology. For her, the faculty has been treating the process of changing these two certificates as a test case to “explore the process” and see what “hurdles might happen.”
“We are the first [name change],” she said. “I think there will be bigger discussions… in the future.”
Potential for the faculty to undergo a name change as well in the future
During the presentation, Jobin said there is potential that in the future the U of A’s faculty of native studies could change to Indigenous studies. The dean of the faculty, Chris Andersen, echoed this sentiment.
“Part of the reason why we haven’t changed it from the faculty of native studies to the faculty of Indigenous studies, which would be the obvious change, is because it is about a 14-step process to do,” Andersen said. “As the internal stuff changes, at some point we will get to the point where we have to [change].”
“Because not only are we [the faculty] at the point where we aren’t Aboriginal, we are at the native studies level. So we are sort of two iterations behind where we should be and it is getting kind of embarrassing… We will eventually change again.”