Wel Me7 Yews Network for Indigenizing Higher Education

The Wel Me7 Yews Network for Indigenizing Higher Education, based at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) supports work guided by a diverse network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Advisory Council members.

In 2018, Secwepemc Elder Mike Arnouse, of the Adams Lake Indian Band, gifted the Network the name Wel Me7 Yews which means “The Way It’s Always Been” to reflect the many people who come together to guide the work of the Network. The Network is located on the unceded and occupied territory of the Secwepemc people, who have thrived here since time immemorial. We recognize that these lands have always been a place of learning, and continues to be. Our foundational principle governing the Network’s research work is to begin from a place of invitation from Indigenous nations, communities, agencies, coalitions and individuals about matters of importance to them.

Our research, teaching and service program aims to enter a knowledge co-creation process through respectful relationships developed through invited collaborations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and community members. Diverse Indigenous cultural protocols, practices and principles of respect, reciprocity, responsibility and relevance (Archibald, 2008; Kirkness & Barnhardt, 2001) guide our work. Finally the Network takes the position that Indigenous self-determination is manifested within the “Nothing About Us Without Us” belief.

Further, we practice in ways that support the Partnership Agreement between TRU and the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc signed in May 2017, and TRUs 10-year strategic change goal to Honour Truth, Reconciliation and Rights with specific reference to the section which states that “We will nurture a flourishing relationship with the Secwépemc people on whose lands we reside. Members of our community will give exceptional consideration to Secwépemc world view and belief system. We will support thriving Secwépemc culture through respectful actions in research, teaching and service. Our campuses will honour our First House: Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, respect our Second House: T'exelc, acknowledge the many Nations that live and work on and near these lands, and support provincial, national and global movements for the fulfillment and recognition of Indigenous rights.”

Numerous national reports and international instruments support our research agenda, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Calls to Action (2015), the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls to Justice (2019), and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In addition, our work is guided by the research ethics specifically identified here:

“Nothing about us, without us” communicates the idea that no policy should be decided by any representative without the full and direct participation of members of the group(s) affected by that policy.


EDUC 5990

Privileging Indigenous Oral Traditions and Storywork in International Indigenous Research (May 2021)

Indigenous podcast series — Privileging Oral Traditions: Past, Present and Future

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the first and second episodes in the 2022 Indigenous Podcast Series — Privileging Oral Traditions: Past, Present and Future facilitated by TRU Master of Education students, including Dakelh Indigenous and international students of Filipino, Chinese, and South Asian descent.

During the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic, this podcast grew out of a May – June 2021 online Master’s Indigenous research course that I taught in the TRU Faculty of Education and Social Work. There were 20 students in the course from Indigenous nations in Canada, and international citizens from Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, China, and the United States. The Indigenous podcast series was envisioned by Indigenous and international students in the course: namely Frances Maddolozzo, Harsimran Grewal, Chuying Jiao and Marian Erickson. Podcast planning began at the conclusion of the course when a few students expressed sentiments that “they did not want the course to end”. My question to students was “How would you like the learning experience to continue?” The question was met with the student suggestions to develop a diverse podcast series. Initially they wanted to help other international students learn some of the Indigenous history in Canada, however it evolved to helping others learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action (2015) and other international documents. Students were horrified to learn about the identification of 215 unmarked children’s graves that were recovered under an orchard on the grounds of Canada’s euphemistically-named Kamloops Residential School. The announcement by Tk’emlups te Secwepmc leadership occurred during the course time period. Many of the international students expressed profound shock in the announcement, and confusion at how this could happen in Canada, a country touted internationally as a beacon of justice and human rights advancement.

My role is to support the direction undertaken by the students, and their desire to share with students, faculty, staff and others what they learned and are learning.

Prior to this this project, none of the students had ever participated in a podcast series, and were not familiar with the technology. This was mitigated by the mentorship and contributions of Matthew Stranach and Brenna Gray of TRU's Open Learning Division.

This podcast series reflects the diverse Indigenous and international master's student perspectives. This is their first podcast efforts to share what they know, and to showcase the interviews they’ve enacted with diverse Indigenous (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) peoples across Canada.

The first episode is to introduce you to the team (Frances Maddolozzo, Harsimran Grewal, Chuying Jiao, Marion Erickson and Dr. Mukwa Musayett – Shelly Johnson).

Drumming is by Vernie Clement (Dakelh) and Lex Edwards of TRU.

The second episode is led by a TRU graduate research assistant Frances Maddalozzo (of Filipino descent) who is beginning her PhD program at the University of British Columbia in September 2022. Her discussion with Black/Metis lawyer Maria Lucas focuses on "Equipping educators on their role within reconciliation through intercultural and inter-religious understanding".

You may hear the podcasts on either of these sites:

Ongoing invited collaborations

Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA)

Development of (1) a roundtable session with AUFA members to discuss principles and proposals for Indigenizing their collective agreement and (2) consulting with the proposals committee as they prepare proposed contract language for their negotiating team.

Esk’etemc First Nation (Secwepemc Nation)

Assist in the development of a Traditional Knowledge and Research Policy to guide research that takes place in Esk’etemc territory.

Indigenizing Higher Education Scholarly Review Council

Summer/Fall 2020. Wemigwans, J. (2018). The digital bundle: Protecting and promoting Indigenous knowledge on-line. University of Regina Press. An online academic review, hosted by the Wel Me7 Yews Network and co-hosted by participants. Seven sessions, contributory participants: 15

Taking a Trauma-Informed, Decolonized Approach to Address Animal Neglect Within At-Risk Canadian Populations. — R. Stevenson, C. Morales (Vancouver Humane Society), S. Johnson

The overall aim of this research is to update the practices and processes of the animal services sector towards a One Welfare, trauma-informed model/approach. The concept of One Welfare refers to recognizing the interconnections between animal welfare, human wellbeing, the environment, and society overall. A trauma-informed model embraces practices which recognize the broad impact of trauma, and actively seek to avoid re-traumatization.

Privileging Indigenous Oral Traditions in International Indigenous Research

Graduate Course Development and Book Development

Transformational Legacy of NVIT’s First Bachelor of Indian Social Work Cohort (1989-1993)

This Indigenous-led, envisioned and centered educational research project is the idea of Dave Manuel of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc. Dave is one of thirty students that graduated from the first Bachelor of Indian Social Work (BISW) program offered during 1989-1993 at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) at Merritt, BC. The four-year degree program was a collaboration between the NVIT, the University of Regina, and the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC), now known as the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC). Of the 30 graduating students, all but one were Indigenous peoples. This research seeks to understand the cohort’s perspectives about the transformational legacy resulting from their NVIT social work education. We want to know about the holistic personal, familial, community-based, educational capacity building and achievements of cohort members that they attribute to their NVIT educational journey.

RED in the Academy

Six members of BC institutions belonging to the 23-member provincial Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) Decolonization, Reconciliation and Indigenization Committee (DRISC) are collaborating on a research project to explore the experiences of Indigenous peoples working in Canadian and Indigenous post-secondary institutions.

Past events

Indigenous scholarly book review
— May to October 2020

A digital bundle: Protection and promoting Indigenous knowledge online
By: Jennifer Wemigwans (2018) University of Regina Press. » Link

An essential contribution to Internet activism and a must read for Indigenous educators. A Digital Bundle frames digital technology as an important tool for self-determination and idea sharing, ultimately contributing to Indigenous resurgence and nation building. By defining Indigenous Knowledge online in terms of “digital bundles,” Jennifer Wemigwans elevates both cultural protocol and cultural responsibilities, grounds online projects within Indigenous philosophical paradigms, and highlights new possibilities for both the Internet and Indigenous communities. Citation

The Wel Me7 Yews Network for Indigenizing Higher Education recognizes the 2020 critical COVID-19 experience of Canadian post-secondary institutions, and the diverse impact on faculty, staff and students. Within a very short timeframe, global post-secondary Institutions moved teaching to on-line platforms.

We invited the participation of faculty, community members and students at post-secondary institutions across Canada to consider the pedagogical and cultural implications for online Indigenous knowledges. The Network supported a collective review and discussion of each chapter, and shared responsibility to lead virtual sessions between May and October 2020. Collectively we discussed specific considerations and implications for our own teaching and learning in this new COVID-19 period.

Professional Indigenous Women’s Talking Circle
— January to March 2020 (seven sessions)

The Wel Me7 Yews Network for Indigenizing Higher Education responded to a need identified by professional Indigenous women in the local community to establish a culturally safe talking circle space to address specific issues of leadership and policy concerns. The Network worked with the Indian Residential School Survivors Society to provide a First Nations female cultural facilitator to create and implement seven holistic bi-weekly participant sessions. We invited the participation of TRU faculty, intergenerational Tk’emlups te Secwepemc community members and students living in the Secwepemc territory.

Indigenous Speaker Series

Marion Buller (2019) Chief Commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Indigenous Speaker Presentation

Dr. Marianne Ignace and Dr. Ron Ignace (2017) Secwépemc people, land, and laws: Yerí7 re Stsq'ey's-kucw. Queen’s University Press. Indigenous Speaker Presentation

Towards Indigenizing Higher Education (2017)