The University is set to hire two new Indigenous faculty members this year

Provost Jeff Ollerhead said Mt. A would also be open to an Indigenous studies program

The Mount Allison administration recently announced that it will be hiring two new Indigenous faculty members for the 2018-19 school year. On the recommendation of the Indigenous Advisory Circle and University Planning Committee, two tenure-track positions have been allocated to the faculties of arts and/or social sciences to make disciplinary or interdisciplinary hires in the area of Indigenous studies.

Laylia Ivory Bennett, a second-year anthropology and Indigenous studies student, and co-president of the Indigenous Students Support Group, said, “The committee has really changed how they think about and how they put out job postings for faculty members.… I really hope one of the hires will be a Mi’kmaq speaker because the students really want to be able to take a Mi’kmaq language course. Overall, I’d say I’m both excited and nervous for the outcome.”

Many Mt. A community members spoke about how this relates to the University’s commitment to Indigenization and diversification. “I just think the support and the commitment of the provost to doing this is really significant. In my experience this is the first time that we’ve had such a strong commitment to diversify the faculty complement,” said Patricia Kelly Spurles, head of anthropology.

The ad for the new hires will be going out this week, after widespread consultation on its creation with the Indigenous advisory circle, elder-in-residence Gilbert Sewell, former Indigenous support coordinator Doreen Richard, various Mt. A alumni, and the Indigenous Students Support Group. Interviews will take place in April and will include selected students as voting members of the hiring committee.

Canadian universities like Trent have had Indigenous studies programs since the early 2000s, but smaller universities like St. Mary’s and Bishop’s still do not offer full programs. Saskia Van Walsum/Contributor

In an email, Provost Jeff Ollerhead said, “Hopefully these hires will be a very important step in our general efforts to Indigenize. I have asked the hiring committee to think creatively about ways to attract and consider candidates who, if hired, will diversify our academic environment.”

Ollerhead said there would be particular attention to bringing in those who would focus on the traditional territories of Mi’kma’ki and “would embrace the idea of building an Indigenous studies program regardless of disciplinary orientation.”

Some see this as a long time coming. “This is … something that students have been saying for years, including myself when I was a student,” said Emma Hassencahl-Perley, Indigenous affairs coordinator. “A program on Indigenous peoples and history by Indigenous peoples, this is an integral step.”

Lily Falk