Lassonde-funded course highlights colonial impact on Indigenous people

Notes lecture workshop meeting

Indigeneity and Decolonization in a North American Context, an eight-session course supported by Lassonde EDI Seed Funding, concluded its exploration of themes, methods and concepts in Indigenous studies and knowledge in relation to ideas in sociology.

The course, which successfully concluded in March, was open to the Lassonde community – including students, staff and faculty members. It focused on the “truth about colonialism,” based on Indigenous history and ethnographies, to demonstrate the impact of white colonial history on all Indigenous people, within a North American context.

Indigenous feminism and storytelling were at the forefront of this course, along with discussions about the colonial structures that have facilitated limited access to resources for Indigenous people with regard to employment, education, housing and more.

Jeffrey Harris
Jeffrey Harris
Emma Posca
Emma Posca

A significant portion also outlined the perspective of a settler scholar, as part of a decolonial movement, to teach the disruption of colonial policies, procedures and institutional structures that work towards the eradication, marginalization and oppression of Indigenous people in Canada. 

This course was a result of the successful application by Jeffrey Harris, associate professor and director of Common Engineering, as well as Emma Posca, a PhD candidate, former Lassonde staff member and current teaching assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Posca led the course, drawing on her PhD work in the School of Gender, Feminist and Sexuality Studies, and her dissertation which uses theories, methods and concepts such as Indigenous feminism, allyship, intersectionality, critical race theory, ethnography, patriarchy, colonialism and decolonization.

The curriculum also included several guest speakers, including Alejandro Mayoral, executive director and founder at Indigenous Friends Association, and Jennifer Meness, Bawajigan Waabanong (Dreams Tomorrow’s Dawn) Migizi minwa Biné Dodemok from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and assistant professor of Indigenous studies at Toronto Metropolitan University.  

“I want to give a big thank you and shoutout to Emma Posca for organizing this course and sharing her knowledge with us,” says Harris. “I found that this learning opportunity was thought-provoking.”

Posca shared the spirit of gratitude. “The support shown to me by Harris has been unparalleled,” says Posca. “I also want to recognize Lassonde’s EDI Seed Funding that made this series possible. I am honoured and privileged to be a part of this initiative. All the participants joined class activities with enthusiasm and encouraged each other to learn, feel safe, share great ideas and get creative.” 

Indigeneity and Decolonization in a North American Context was one of six projects that received funding as part of the EDI Seed Funding Initiative introduced in 2022, to promote a culture of EDI at the School while helping to remove systemic barriers for faculty, students and staff in academia. “It is our responsibility to work towards Indigenization and decolonization of the macro (the academy) and the micro (the classroom) so that more Indigenous people can have places and spaces that are reflective and inclusive,” concluded Posca. “I will continue to work hard towards Indigenization and decolonization initiatives and encourage others to do the same through initiatives like this one.”

Learn more about Lassonde’s EDI Seed Funding and the application and review process.