Indigenous Learning Fund open for proposals, possibilities

Frank Neufeld // Western News

Established by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, the Indigenous Learning Fund is open to proposals for one-time, single-year grants of up to $7,500 to support projects that advance Western’s Indigenous strategic priorities.

Creative ideas to grow Indigenous teaching and learning across campus will get a boost from a new Indigenous Learning Fund, university officials announced. The funding offers an opportunity for various groups to make their mark in building an inclusive, culturally safe campus.

“This investment is part of the university’s overall commitment to raise Indigenous voices and strengthen connections with our Indigenous community partners,” said Candace Brunette-Debassige, Acting Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Initiatives).

Established by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, the fund is open to proposals for one-time, single-year grants of up to $7,500 to support projects that advance Western’s Indigenous strategic priorities.

The grants will be distributed on a competitive basis to faculties, departments, schools, libraries and/or administrative units (including formal student groups or clubs) in January 2021, with initiatives to be completed by Jan. 30, 2022.

“We want to see what people come up with,” said Sara Mai Chitty, Indigenous Curriculum and Pedagogy Advisor. “We don’t know what to expect – and we’re open to anything. The possibilities are endless.”

Potential submissions may include:

  • Developing and/or evaluating Indigenous courses (in classroom and informal learning);
  • Professional development initiatives furthering faculty and staff perspectives and understanding of Indigenous histories, ways of knowing and worldviews;
  • Initiatives enhancing partnerships with Indigenous communities in teaching and learning;
  • Pilot projects testing new ideas and practices in Indigenous teaching and learning; or
  • Indigenous-specific learning workshops, modules and educational materials.

Organizers stressed that the fund is open both to Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus units or groups, with priority given to projects fostering collaboration among units and faculties.

“Some people may worry and think, ‘We’re not Indigenous, we don’t know if this is our place.’ I’ll show how we can work together and see if there is a community partner or grad student who could help,” Chitty said.

Proposals will be adjudicated by a committee chaired by Brunette-Debassige and composed of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, staff and students. Successful applicants will be required to submit a final report detailing outcomes and spending and to participate in knowledge-transfer initiatives, with the goal of sharing best practices.

“I really do encourage people, even if they have a pie-in-the sky idea. Let’s talk about it and see if we can take baby steps,” Chitty said. “Since it’s a pilot program, we can start small, show that we need it and hopefully keep going and grow toward the bigger picture.”

The call for proposals runs July 1-Sept. 30. An online information session is scheduled for Aug. 4 from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Visit the Office of Indigenous Initiatives website for details.