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Aboriginal Awareness training dispels misconceptions

By Dale Johnson Posted: August 12, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Facilitator Delephine Gall (left) and elder Norma Jean Byrd help participants learn about aboriginal history through lectures, games and videos.
Facilitator Delephine Gall (left) and elder Norma Jean Byrd help participants learn about aboriginal history through lectures, games and videos. Photo: U of R Photography

Faculty and staff at the University of Regina are offered Aboriginal Awareness training, and more than 1,000 people have taken the training since it was launched in 2006.

“The overall objectives of the program are to dispel myths and misconceptions, and create awareness of the historical factors that placed aboriginal people in the current situation they are in,” explains Delephine Gall, Diversity Advisor in Human Resources, and a session facilitator.

“As well, the program aims to improve race relations and better understanding of differing cultures by providing information from an aboriginal prospective, and to create knowledge of the current agreements and initiatives that University of Regina has committed to,” she adds.

The University of Regina has been an approved Employment Equity employer under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission since 1989. In 1999, as one method to increase the number of aboriginal employees, the U of R and Saskatchewan First Nations and Métis Relations signed an Aboriginal Partnership Agreement, which committed the University to facilitating constructive aboriginal race and cultural relations.

The aboriginal awareness training is called “Discovering Knowledge…Sharing a Path.” Most sessions have about 15 to 20 participants, and include games played in groups, multiple choice questions, lectures, short videos, and power point presentations. As well, an elder is on hand to share experiences and answer questions.   

“Opening employees up to different realities on our campus is important,” Gall says.

Topics covered include: a First Nations world view perspective on cultural beliefs and teachings; the Indian Act; treaties and treaty rights in Saskatchewan; historical overview of the Métis people; the University of Regina as an employer of aboriginal people; government and legal terminology and terms to avoid; and debunking myths relating to aboriginal people, including taxation and education.

Gall says there are a few areas that participants seem to be the most unaware of, including residential schools and how recently they were operated; the pass and permit system; the ‘60’s scoop; and “Road Allowance” people.

Gall says sessions will again be offered this fall and encourages people to watch for the announcement and register.