Society and Culture

Yellowhead Tribal College, University of Alberta collaborate to co-deliver Indigenous Community Industry Relations Certificate

Continuing education certificate program gives students knowledge, skills and attitudes to foster better relationships among government, industry and Indigenous communities.

  • October 23, 2020
  • By Bev Betkowski

A new partnership is being celebrated by the University of Alberta and Yellowhead Tribal College to jointly deliver a continuing education program important to building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, and a deeper understanding of worldviews of the Indigenous peoples of these shared lands.

“This collaborative agreement brings together the knowledge systems of both institutions, their expertise and wisdom in their respective teaching areas, and their desire to work together for the provision of continuing education,” said Florence Glanfield, vice-provost of Indigenous programming and research for the U of A. 

The two post-secondary institutions are celebrating a memorandum of relational understanding to co-deliver the Indigenous Community Industry Relations Certificate (ICIR) program. 

The genesis of ICIR, certification co-developed and meaningfully delivered, was conceived by a core group of liaison professionals working with industry and Indigenous communities more than 20 years ago. 

“Watching the evolution of this program delivery is inspirational,” stated Sandra Sutter, president of the Circle for Aboriginal Relations (CFAR), which supported the ICIR program development.

First offered through the U of A’s Faculty of Extension beginning in 2015, ICIR is designed as a catalyst for community engagement among Indigenous peoples, industry and government in relation to issues of social and economic development, as well as the environment. Participants gain knowledge, skills and attitudes that foster better relationships among government, industry and nations.

“From the beginning, ICIR has been deeply connected to Indigenous peoples who have contributed their expertise in course development and delivery,” said Diana Steinhauer, president of Yellowhead Tribal College. 

Steinhauer noted the essential components of the program are derived from Elders’ input and guidance through ceremony and content knowledge. 

The new collaborative delivery of ICIR will see Yellowhead Tribal College responsible for the program’s core and elective courses that encompass ancestral knowledge of the lands, while the Faculty of Extension will deliver courses from industry experts that contribute to skills in business.

Land-based approaches to teaching and learning provide all learners in the ICIR program with the valuable opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of worldviews of First Nations and Métis peoples. An enhanced understanding and awareness of each of the negotiating parties’ perspectives is beneficial.

The ICIR program also reflects the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, which state that the steps toward reconciliation “require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”

This agreement additionally builds upon a previous U of A collaboration with Yellowhead Tribal College in working with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to develop an assessment process that enables fluent speakers of Anishinaabe, Cree, Nakoda-Sioux and potentially Dënesųłiné to gain credit toward entry into the U of A’s Secondary Education program.

“We’re really excited to be able to take these next steps with Yellowhead Tribal College in developing and delivering programming that embraces Indigenous knowledges,” Glanfield said.

“The agreement also articulates a shared desire to work together as post-secondary institutions to improve access for continuing and professional education,” she added, noting a past agreement in credit programming such as the Master’s in Education delivered by the U of A’s Faculty of Education in collaboration with University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills.