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INST 203 introduces students to the longstanding impacts of governmental policies on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in Canada through four key disciplines: political science, anthropology, history, and sociology.  Students will also review federal and provincial statutes and legislations affecting Indigenous lives, including the British North America Act of 1867, the Constitution Act of 1982, the Indian Act of 1976, and treaties.

By analyzing the broader context of Indigenous-European relations, this three-credit, art/social science course aims to elucidate issues faced by Indigenous peoples from their first contact with European settlers to the present day.  Using students’ theoretical and practical faculties developed throughout the course, they should be able to discuss a range of relevant topics; these include the changing (meanings of) terminology describing Indigenous groups, the endeavors of Indigenous leadership and initiatives to reclaim independence for their people, the state’s attempted assimilation programs, and the significance of Métis populations in policy shaping.

While it has no prerequisites, students cannot take INST 203 for credit if they have already obtained one in INST 200 or NTST 200.  The course is also available as a Challenge for Credit.

Who Should Take This Course and Why

Course Tutor and James Smith Cree Nation member Dr. Neal McLeod recommends the course to all students, explaining that because we dwell on the land, we partake in its stories encompassing Indigenous societies.  He adds that the course should encourage future education, particularly among “teachers and other people who will work extensively with and alongside Indigenous people.”

INST 203 provides a gateway to other undergraduate courses – including research methods – in Indigenous studies, which Course Coordinator, Dr. Josie C.  Auger (who is a nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman)), suggests to students continuing their research on “how the past affects the present.” She goes on to say that non-Indigenous students should freely pursue knowledge by Wisdom Seeking and/or using the Indigenous Research Methodology when working with Indigenous peoples for self-determination.

Dr. Auger explains that doing so respects the diversity of worldviews, languages, traditions, customs, gender, and aspirations of Indigenous peoples in accordance with Mother Earth; by sharing this knowledge, Nations may be restored and strengthened.  Should non-Indigenous students want to engage in research methods, she asks that the knowledges of Indigenous peoples be respected and affirmed.

Course, Assignments, and Exam Details

This course is comprised of three units (in order, with proposed, updated unit and section titles): Identity: Social, Political, Psychological, and Legal Consequences; Treaties; and The Métis: The Emergence and Status of Indigenous Peoples.  The first unit covers “The Indian Act and Racial Categorization”, “The Indian Act and Indigenous Women”, and “Terminology and Identity”.

The next unit contains the most sections: “Background to Treaties’, “The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and Subsequent Unnumbered Treaties”, “The Meaning of Treaties”, “The Numbered Treaties, 1871-1923”, and “Indigenous Understanding of Treaty Terms”.  The last unit concludes with “What’s in a Name? The Emergence of the Métis”, “Indigenous Women and the Emergence of the Métis”, and “The Political Emergence of the Métis”.

There are three assignments, each worth 15%, 20%, and 25% respectively, as well as a final exam valued at 40%.

How to Be Successful in the Course

Course Tutor’s Advice for the Course

At the beginning of the course, Dr. McLeod advises students to take the self-assessment so they may understand their strengths and areas of improvement.  Furthermore, he says that enhanced one-to-one instruction is an advantage of the course and he strives to offer the best possible experience to students, so they should seek guidance “whenever they need it.” He believes that students can successfully complete the course “with regular work, focus, and the openness to ask questions”.


If you have any further questions regarding the course, please do not hesitate to contact the Course Coordinator at jauger@athabascau.ca.  Happy learning!

Interviews conducted by Karen Lam.

The Assembled Circle of Delegates of the Summer Institute (1996). Appendix 2: Saskatoon Declaration of Indigenous Cultural Restoration and Policy Recommendations on Cultural Restoration Developed at the Saskatoon Summer Institute. In Marie Battiste [Ed.], Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision (2000), UBC Press.