Intercultural Learning at TRU

Thompson Rivers University is located on the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Territory - situated in the Southern Interior of British Columbia within the unceded traditional lands of the Secwepemc Nation. The region includes 7 nations: Dákelh Dené, Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, St’át’imc, Syilx, Tsilhqot’in, and Nlaka’pamux.

Intercultural Learning at TRU

TRU is a culturally diverse community. Faculty, staff, and students represent Indigenous, regional, national, and global communities. Increasing intercultural understanding is one of TRU’s five Strategic Priorities with the aim of supporting “diversity, inclusion and intercultural understanding between our Aboriginal, local, regional and global communities” (Strategic Priorities, 2014, p.4).

The Academic Plan seeks to engage students in cultural understanding:

Educational and delivery models should incorporate intercultural experiences for all TRU students. The development of these learning modes is reflexive, inspiring students and faculty to integrate reflections on Aboriginal cultures and histories into their work, as well as local, national and international frames of reference. Focusing on culturally aware education, practice and scholarship enables the development of a just and inclusive university community (Academic Plan, 2011, p.10).

Why Interculturalize?

Thompson Rivers University has a unique student demographic; over 10% of students are Indigenous from a variety of nations, another 20% join us from more than 85 countries around the globe. It is also very likely that immigration will increase in the Kamloops region; indeed, according to Statistics Canada (2009) by 2031 almost half (46%) of Canadians over the age of 15 will have been born outside of Canada or have at least one parent born in another part of the world. Nationally, there has been an 119% increase in international students since 2008. (CBIE, 2018). Indigenous youth are one of the fastest growing populations (UNIVCAN, 2015); over 400,000 Indigenous youth in Canada will be entering the labour force over the next decade (CIC, 2015).

All of these demographic shifts present higher education with unique opportunities and challenges. Intercultural approaches can enhance learning and teaching environments and provide a foundation for educators to respond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action which include: “Build student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (Call 63.iii) and “this will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism” (Calls 24, 28, 57, 92iii)

Our Team

Kyra Garson

Kyra Garson

Biography

Kyra Garson is currently a faculty member in the Faculty of Student Development who works as the coordinator for interculturalization on campus. She is also an intercultural trainer and researcher who has developed and delivered professional development programs to educational institutions across Canada and internationally, as well as organizations and community groups committed to diversity initiatives. Her research interests include faculty development, multicultural group work and intercultural and global learning as core competencies for the 21st century. Kyra’s doctoral study entitled “Are We Graduating Global Citizens?” received the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education’s dissertation of the year award in 2014

Amie McLean

Amie McLean

Biography

Amie McLean is an Intercultural Coordinator in the Faculty of Student Development at TRU. Her background is in Sociology and her work has consistently focused on issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice in Canada. She is a Thompson Rivers’ alumni who went on to examine post-secondary education funding policies for Indigenous students for her Master’s degree. Her SSHRC-funded Ph.D. dissertation from Simon Fraser University examined the dynamics of culture, class, race, and gender in the BC-based long haul trucking industry. Her published work has examined issues of diversity, (in)equity, and inclusion/exclusion in policy, education, and the workplace.

Harminder Padda

Harminder Padda

Biography

Harminder Padda is a co-op student working in the Intercultural Learning Department, within the Faculty of Student Development. While Harminder is not preparing for his enrollment into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program in Fall 2019, he enjoys watching and playing sports.