April 29, 2024

Pipe ceremony accepts new Indigenous curriculum grant recipients for their work ahead

2024 UCalgary Indigenous Curriculum Grants recipients announced
Grant recipients gathered in Taylor Institute
2024 Indigenous Curriculum Grant recipients gather for pipe ceremony. Dez Standingready

The sound of tea being poured. The smell of sweetgrass in the air. Gentle laughter as people join a circle, guided by Elders Reg and Rose Crowshoe, for a traditional pipe ceremony that accepts the second cohort of Indigenous Curriculum Grant-holders to officially begin or close their projects. 

Launched in 2022, the Indigenous Curriculum Grants provide up to $10,000 for initiatives that advance Indigenous engagement and Indigenous perspectives in academic courses and programs. These projects help create spaces for an Indigenous resurgence in academic curriculum through innovative land-based learning and the inclusion of Traditional Knowledge, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers.  

“The land and the environment are our resource, and we need it to connect to Indigenous knowledge. Knowledge is the spirit that awakes all of it,” says Crowshoe. 

The grants are a partnership between the Office of Indigenous Engagement, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) and the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning 

“These grants help create innovative land-based learning opportunities and affirm Traditional Knowledge Keepers in the context of the University of Calgary’s curriculum,” says Dr. Natasha Kenny, PhD, senior director of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

“We are here to help awaken Indigenous knowledges across the university’s faculties and departments, as part of our commitments to truth and reconciliation.”

The pipe ceremony is the oral way of asking for project support, as each recipient kneels in the circle and shares what they intend to do and what support they need for their project. For those closing their grant, recipients share what they achieved and learned, a process called “truthing.” 

“The significance for the pipe ceremony is to acknowledge the parallel process of building strategic transformations, through enrolment to relatives. The academic grants application uses the pipe ceremony as a parallel oral system application. The pipe serves as tool in our oral governance that parallels the western written system application process, and the pipe represents the responsibility to the project-holders to achieve their goals,” says Norma Jeremick’ca Gresl, manager, community outreach and program development in the Office of Indigenous Engagement. 

Crowshoe affirms this, saying, “Normalizing the smudge, to say its equal to the gavel — we are working together to create ethical spaces to bring two systems together to talk to each other, rather than having a clash.”  

2024 Indigenous Curriculum Grant recipients 

  • Dr. Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn, PhD | Werklund School of Education | Indigenous Wellness in Schools 
  • Dr. Laura Mazzino, PhD | Faculty of Science | Learning and Teaching the Ways of Knowing in Connection with Physics and Astronomy 
  • Dr. Mathieu Pruvot, PhD | Faculty of Veterinary Medicine | Supporting the Decolonization of the Vet Curriculum at UCalgary 
  • Dr. David Scott, PhD | Werklund School of Education | Renewing Foundational Treaties and Agreements in Education 
  • Dr. Michelle Scott, EdD | Faculty of Nursing | Integrating the Four Elements into the BScN Curriculum: Faculty and Student Transformations 
  • Dr. Adela Tesaarek Kincaid, PhD | Faculty of Arts | Stoney Nakoda Land-Based Learning: Transforming Ways of Knowing 

ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization. 

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