News  Concordia gets First Peoples major

New bachelor degree open to native and non-native students

Students at Concordia University are anxiously awaiting the First Peoples studies major – the first of its kind to reach Quebec.

The program, expected to boost the native student population at Concordia by one-third, has received an overwhelming response from students in the area.

“There isn’t a day that passes without someone calling to inquire about the new program,” said Manon Tremblay, a coordinator at the Native Student Centre.

The Native Student Association (NSA) brushed off its cobwebs and, after a five-year hiatus, was re-established last year as a student group to represent the native student body and raise cultural consciousness.

“Since the NSA became official last October, we’ve been putting together different workshops and events to create awareness for the cultural beliefs and traditions we practice,” said NSA President Elana Beaver.

Nearly ten per cent of Canada’s First Nations live in Quebec. Although the NSA is specifically for students recognized as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit, Beaver maintains that the association “wants to reach out and share our culture.

“There are a lot of students who don’t know very much about native peoples or the association,” she said, adding that many of the current members found their way to the NSA by word-of-mouth.

The only hurdle left to cross is finding a First Peoples studies program director.

“[The search committee is] currently in the interviewing process to find a director to suit the program,” said Tremblay.

The 42-credit bachelor in First Peoples studies, which will be open to both native and non-native students, will include courses in aboriginal history – Algonquian, Inuktitut, and Iroquoian – traditional justice, health and educational practices, sacred stories, and contemporary aboriginal politics and social issues.