The college I work at, the College of New Caledonia (CNC), currently offers English upgrading from the Fundamental (approximately grades 6-8) to the Provincial (approximately grade 12) level. Many students need to take the Provincial Level English Literature course as a prerequisite for a college/university program, or to get their high school equivalency. I’m very excited because I have been asked to develop a new course for the Provincial level–First Peoples Literature. Once the course is articulated, students will be able to take it instead of Provincial Level English Literature.
The BC Adult Basic Education articulation guide states that any indigenous (Aboriginal/First Peoples) course must have student outcomes that
- Identify and articulate past and present forces shaping First Nation identity, such as culture, land, family, community, language, holistic perspectives, protocol, resistance, hegemony, values, worldview, knowledge, wisdom, and technology.
- Identify the history, elements, and intergenerational effects of colonization and decolonization.
- Recognize that while First Nations groups share some common values and perspectives, they are also distinct, diverse, dynamic and evolving.
I’ve taken a look at various colleges/universities that offer upgrading courses, and it looks like there are only a couple that offer a First Peoples Literature course. It makes a lot of sense for CNC to offer this course as an alternative to Provincial Level English Literature, because we have many Aboriginal students and we also have many students who are interested in Aboriginal issues. In our city, Aboriginal people make up 11% of the population; for comparison, they make up 2% of Vancouver’s population. The historical context of Aboriginal peoples in our region continues to affect many aspects of our daily life: social, environmental, economic, and cultural.
I will be keeping track of potential materials and resources with the link at the top of the page called “First Peoples Literature Resource List.”
Though I am indeed excited about this course development opportunity, I am also aware I am approaching this as someone who is not Aboriginal. I am a person of colour, and I have studied gender, class and race issues in my academic work, which gives me some helpful perspective and understanding. However, at the end of the day I am not Aboriginal and thus must be extra mindful to seek input and guidance from people who are.