Native studies program recognized for promoting best practices in Aboriginal governance
A new program offered by the Faculty of Native Studies focusing on governance for Aboriginal communities has been awarded the University of Alberta’s 2009 President’s Achievement Award for connecting communities.
The Certificate in Aboriginal Governance & Partnership program is aimed at teaching best practices for negotiation and partnership between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups. The one-term course teaches students about leadership, government, management and administration, and business growth for First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations and their non-Aboriginal counterparts.
“The success of the program in engaging students, alumni, government, the City of Edmonton, various Aboriginal organizations and countless other stakeholders in the research and subsequent development of the program was clearly evident in the team submission,” said President Indira Samarasekera, offering her congratulations to members of the program. “It provides a solid model for one of our four cornerstones, connecting communities.”
Edward Allen, chief operating officer of the National Centre for First Nations Governance in Ottawa, was on hand to sign a memorandum of understanding with the university in support of the program when it was launched in 2008.
“This is important work,” he said at the time. “This is how we make First Nations’ education relevant to First Nations communities: by going to the community, by looking at how the curriculum is taught and developed, and ultimately changing the perspective of what education means.”
The program was created with the support of donors and key partners within the university community, said Ellen Bielawski, dean of the Faculty of Native Studies.
“Our partners in the U of A School of Business are a key part of this program because we think of governance as being much broader than political leadership. We really feel that we need to be working on partnerships in all the areas of financial growth and management,” she said.
The new program is part of a much larger initiative on behalf of the entire university, said U of A provost and vice-president (academic) Carl Amrhein.
“At its best, a university like ours creates intellectual space to consider and to solve some of the most difficult problems that humanity faces,” he said at the program’s launch. “In our time and in our country, the question of inequity between Aboriginal people and other Canadians—economic, educational and health inequalities—is one of the most challenging situations we face.
“We face similar challenges within our university, but we are determined that, by working appropriately and respectfully with Aboriginal people, these partnerships will become, must become, essential and part of the very fabric of this institution.”
Students who successfully complete the course receive a certificate in addition to their respective degrees. Graduates of the certificate program can apply their skills to any management aspect of Aboriginal relations, including health care, economic development, education, justice and community policing, natural resources and treaty negotiations.