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Programs / Arts / Indigenous Studies

Program Summary

We live in an era of decolonization and reconciliation, in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples must grapple with the haunting legacies of racism and cultural violence and find ways to move forward. The interdisciplinary Indigenous Studies program seeks to aid this effort by providing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with an in-depth understanding of the historical and contemporary experience of Indigenous peoples in North America and the world.

Following the Mamiwininmowin (Algonquin language) concept of aditawazi nisoditadiwin, or walking in two worlds, this program blends traditional academic instruction with Indigenous approaches to teaching. Coursework in the program covers four main thematic areas: Indigenous peoplehood studies; Indigenous ways of knowing  and epistemologies; the history of Indigenous-Settler relations and colonization; and Indigenous recovery, vitalization, and reclamation and decolonization. In fourth year, students will have the option of working with elders or a community organization in a capstone project.

A minor in Indigenous Studies is also available.

Since its inception, the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton has constantly reinvented itself to incorporate new knowledge and new approaches, in order to understand the creative tensions and diversity that characterize Canada and the people who occupy its space. We have established a strong reputation in interdisciplinary research and teaching in areas related to and intersecting with heritage conservation; Canadian cultural studies; Indigenous studies; settler studies; identities and social movements; gender and women’s studies; environment and place; and issues related to public policy, politics, language, economy, and society.

The School’s academic programs are extremely well placed to help us understand and explain the challenges faced by Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and other groups. Throughout its history, the School has participated in reshaping an understanding of Canadian society, by confronting historical and current affairs and helping students to become vital participants and astute critical thinkers in Canada’s liberal democracy. The primary goal of our program is to provide students with a comprehensive education – refining excellent critical, research, and problem-solving skills – that allows for critical engagement in a rapidly changing academic, professional, and community-oriented work environment.

Carleton University’s location in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, provides an important source of stimulus and support for both faculty and students interested in Indigenous Studies.

Carleton’s Indigenous Studies program benefits greatly from its location in the capital and the extensive networks that exist between our faculty and professionals who work in local organizations (including the Wabano Centre, the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Minwaashin Lodge), Canada’s federal government (including Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada), national Aboriginal organizations (including the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the Metis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Native Women’s Association of Canada), and a wide array of educational, health, and other civil organizations which increasingly recognize the need to consult, employ, and build bridges with Indigenous peoples and communities.

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

Carleton’s Combined Honours in Indigenous Studies exposes students to core courses in pre- and postcontact Indigenous Studies, Indigenous resistance, Indigenous representations, and urban Indigenous issues. Students enrolled in the program complete either a land-based or community-based fourth-year project

The program has four main thematic areas or suites of courses centered on Indigenous Peoplehood Studies, Indigenous ways of knowing and epistemologies, the history of Indigenous-Settler relations and colonization, and lastly, Indigenous recovery, vitalization, and reclamation and decolonization. This latter suite includes courses on Indigenous governance and contemporary issues. The four themes come together at the fourth year in a Capstone course titled “Indigeneity and the City” which has a specific focus on urban Indigeneity and the Ottawa area.

Core program in Indigenous Studies

Students are encouraged to take INDG 1010: Introduction to Indigenous Peoplehood Studies and INDG 1011: Introduction to Indigenous-Settler Encounters in their first year. In the second year, students take courses on contemporary Indigenous Studies and on decolonizing gender and sexuality.
Third-year courses expose students to questions around governance and traditional knowledge. While most of the learning will take place in classrooms, this program will be innovative in that it is animated by the Mamiwininmowin (Algonquin language) concept of of aditawazi nisoditadiwin, or walking in two worlds. It will integrate Indigenous approaches to pedagogy such as consensual decision-making and knowledge creation exercises, and first-person narratives that integrate Indigenous ways of knowing and critical questioning. At the fourth year, students will have the option of working with elders or a community organization in a Capstone project. This initiative allows students to develop in-depth partnerships with Indigenous knowledge holders and/or various organizations serving Indigenous communities and peoples.

Additional courses

In addition to your program core courses, you will be required to take additional credits in areas related to Indigenous Studies. You can choose from a wide range of courses available at Carleton and you can consult the Carleton University Undergraduate Calendar for the complete list of courses.

First-year experience

As a first-year Bachelor of Arts student at Carleton, you are strongly encouraged to take a First-year Seminar. Experienced instructors teach small groups (a maximum of 30 students) and provide early and frequent feedback on class assignments and instruction in research, writing and study skills.

Although some First-year Seminars count as courses leading to a major, you do not have to choose a First-year Seminar in your major discipline.

The workplace

Graduates of this program will be well equipped to work in band councils, community organizations, and to enter into the federal civil service in Ottawa. We live in an era of decolonization, where transnational and international Indigenous right-based discourse and movements contribute to Indigenous cultural and political resurgence on a massive scale. Our graduates will be well positioned to work in a wide variety of workplaces impacted by these developments.

Graduate programs

Graduates of our combined honours program are generally well qualified to go on to graduate studies in a variety of fields including Indigenous Studies, Canadian Studies, Political Science, and History. Carleton offers a graduate program in Canadian Studies, which draws students from across the country and around the globe. If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early in order to ensure that your program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including law, teaching and journalism are interested in attracting wellrounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds. A strong background in Indigenous Studies from an interdisciplinary perspective complements knowledge gained from traditional disciplines.

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