Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Implementing the UNDRIP in Northern Manitoba

By Heidi Cook, MDP student

University College of the North main campus in The Pas

University College of the North (UCN) is a post-secondary institution established in 2004 from the former Keewatin Community College. The mission of the UCN is “to ensure northern communities and people will have opportunities, knowledge and skills to contribute to an economically, environmentally and culturally healthy society inclusive and respectful of diverse northern and Aboriginal values and beliefs.” UCN has two main campuses in The Pas and Thompson, and a network of regional centres that deliver programs in First Nations communities. 

Trappers Festival's winning dog team
I came to UCN because the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has been adopted by the institution and the implementation of it through strategic planning and program reviews is underway. The implementation of the UNDRIP at UCN shows it is a progressive institution with strong leadership and dedication to its mission serving northern and indigenous peoples. In some ways UCN already is implementing aspects of the UNDRIP, although not explicitly. UCN has a unique governance structure that includes an Elders Council alongside the Governing Council and Learning Council, and the Kenanow Learning Model that is the foundation for the Bachelor of Education program.

When I arrived in The Pas in January I was greeted by bitter cold alternating with massive snowfalls. The people are very warm however, and I have been welcomed in my host home and in the offices at UCN. I’m following the lead of others involved in the program review of the Natural Resources Management Technology (NRMT) program. It has been a good experience to go through the progressive steps of a program review and to observe how people’s input at each step feeds into the next. My role so far has been to collect and present information to feed into the review process, some of it for comparative analysis of the NRMT program against other natural resource college programs. I presented an introduction to UNDRIP in early December, now the part of the process where UNDRIP is brought in is coming up and I am preparing to put together the report that will cap my placement.

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