Announcements, People

Brunette-Debassige oversees new Indigenous online learning project

August 05, 2021
BY GERRY RUCCHIN

Education professor Candace Brunette-Debassige has been appointed as the Teaching Fellow (Indigenous Learning) at Western University. As part of this fellowship, Brunette-Debassige will launch and coordinate a new and exciting Indigenous Online Learning Bundles Project.

This new Indigenous curriculum initiative is a multi-year project inspired by a similar work done at Carleton University, which aims to create a repository of online curriculum resources that appropriately embed Indigenous knowledges into university teaching and learning, upon which Western instructors can use in their course and lesson planning.

“We are calling our project Maatoo kiiying gaamiinigoo wiziying, which means sharing our gifts in the local Anishnabemowin language. Embodied within the Indigenous notion of 'a gift' are relational ontologies and ethical responsibilities to respect the collective nature of Indigenous knowledges, its interconnections with lands and communities and unique sharing practices,” said Brunette-Debassige. “With this mind, our project will give care and space for Indigenous faculty members who choose to lead the development of an Online Bundle, opportunities to invite Indigenous knowledge holders into their processes, and share diverse perspectives across a wide range of topic areas.”

The Indigenous Online Learning Bundles project places Indigenous Peoples and worldviews at the forefront of the curriculum and development process, which aims to create ethical spaces where Indigenous educators can work collaboratively to gather and share Indigenous knowledges in ways that adhere to local Indigenous protocols and processes.

“This teaching fellowship will play an important role in our ongoing effort to decolonize and Indigenize the curriculum at Western,” Education dean, Donna Kotsopoulos said. “Professor Brunette-Debassige’s expertise in this area and her collaboration skills are well-suited to bring Indigenous worldviews to the curriculum and development process.”

As an Indigenous Teaching Fellow, Brunette-Debassige will coordinate the collaborative development of several Online Learning Bundles by various Indigenous scholars and educators that will be based on broad Indigenous topics/themes that have interdisciplinary application. In addition, Brunette-Debassige will also conduct research on Indigenous teaching and learning initiatives at Western contributing to new knowledge and practice, which aligns with her research expertise of Indigenizing and decolonizing curriculum in the academy.

“Indigenizing the academy involves changing the ways universities often take up their teaching; it also calls for us to proactively create space and give resources for Indigenous voices to be included in the curriculum. We know that there are few Indigenous scholars teaching in the academy for complex historical reasons; this initiative is one of many strategies to help fill the gap of Indigenous voices in the academy, by putting Indigenous peoples at the forefront of curriculum processes, and making them more widely available to instructors to draw upon,” Brunette-Debassige said.

Brunette-Debassige's responsibilities will also include sharing her research and teaching with the Western community through the Centre for Teaching and Learning and through publications or presentations at academic conferences on university teaching.