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

Brad Harasymchuk

Brad Harasymchuk

Biography

Brad Harasymchuk began his career as a teacher. He has taught in elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions in Canada and New Zealand. He completed his Master’s thesis at the University of Saskatchewan, which focused on place-based education (PBE). This research evoked a passion for social justice and PBE, which led him to pursue a PhD at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where he delved deeper into critical pedagogies of place and decolonization. Brad is currently a Learning Strategist in the Faculty of Student Development. He has been working with the Intercultural Development Inventory since 2017.

Michelle-Ikwumonu-resized

Michelle Ikwumonu

Biography

Michelle Ikwumonu is a Student Case Manager in the Faculty of Student Development. She is from the local Secwepemc and Syilx Indigenous nations and is also of French ancestry. Michelle is a TRU Alumni graduating in 2014 with her Bachelor of Social Work and a Certificate in Indigenous Studies. She was also a research assistant in her 4th year for a Decolonizing Indigenous Social Work Field Education project. Additionally her training includes Cultural Awareness & Safety in Practice, Restorative Justice Peacemaker Circle Training, and Trauma Informed Practice with Indigenous youth along with her experiential training in her Indigenous traditions and protocol. “I am culturally empathetic as a Secwepemc/ Syilx woman of color and practice from a Secwepemc/ Syilx centered anti-oppressive and trauma-informed practice lens. My indigenous centered helping practice asserts the importance of taking into consideration the complex situations and systems students navigate daily, to best support students and their academic success while here at TRU.”

Idah Msiska Watson

Idah Msiska Watson

Biography

Originally from Zambia, Idah Msiska Watson is a zealous Communications graduate from Thompson Rivers University (TRU) with a special kindheartedness for helping others. Having lived and studied in three different countries (Zambia, South Africa and Canada), Idah is culturally competent, emotionally intelligent, and possesses a genuine passion for intercultural relations. Through various projects at TRU, including her current role as Assistant International Student Advisor, Idah continues to enjoy the privileges of meeting and supporting students from all walks of life. As a former international student herself, she has made it her mandate to ensure that every new student to TRU is safely integrated into the University and Canadian culture. Idah is well known throughout the TRU Kamloops campus and community for her empathy towards others and keen interest in learning and understanding cultural values. Her expertise in intercultural relations stem from extraordinary life experiences, which includes world travel, international studies, and a decorated undergraduate education, making her a valuable Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) facilitator at TRU.