Emerging Indigenous scholars advance resurgence and decolonization

A group of diverse women

In efforts to adhere to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action, post-secondary institutions have increased their focus on Indigenous education, hiring, removing barriers and providing support for Indigenous students. Adding more Indigenous students, staff and faculty is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the single best practice for reconciliation. 

Shauneen Pete, chair of the Emerging Indigenous Scholars Circle at Royal Roads University, writes about the experiences of Indigenous staff and faculty in her recent opinion piece for University Affairs: 

“Emerging Indigenous scholars are diverse, motivated, inspiring, intelligent and accomplished. They maintain deep connections to their communities, bringing to the academy their nations’ cultural and linguistic traditions. These ways of knowing guide them to conduct their academic work with integrity. These scholars have earned graduate degrees across a wide range of disciplines. They possess a worldly perspective and a profound understanding of colonial influences within academic institutions. Having navigated Indigenous and colonial knowledge systems with persistence and resilience, they have overcome significant barriers and surpassed expectation. In my opinion, emerging Indigenous scholars embody the skills, knowledge and visionary leadership needed to address ongoing settler colonialism, the climate crisis and societal conflict. They are at the forefront of advancing resurgence and decolonization.

Shauneen Pete smiles in front of a natural background.

Shauneen Pete is chair of the Emerging Indigenous Scholars Circle at Royal Roads University.

Lessons learned so far for the Emerging Indigenous Scholars Circle

“We learned that while many of our settler colleagues are eager to work with us, they often report that they learned very little about Indigeneity during their own university experiences. As such, I point them toward the widely available resources so that they continue to address their own learning needs. By doing so, this creates space for the emerging Indigenous scholars to learn their academic craft without the burden of having to teach our colleagues.

“This year, we cherished the privilege of working openly and honestly with one another. We created space for serious discussion and boisterous laughter. We identified institutional gaps and barriers, which I have worked to address. We have had much to celebrate. These emerging scholars have revised and taught courses, published papers, and presented at conferences. They engage in committee work and contribute to the academic enterprise, enhancing the Indigenous presence on our campus.

“My relationships with these emerging scholars are the best part of my job. They inspire me. I thrive on their stories and our laughter. I cheer them on as they complete their dissertations and rock their conference presentations. I listen proudly as they share their impactful teaching moments, and feedback they receive. I root for them when they stand up for themselves and advocate for one another. It has been a great year. And we are growing. We are excited to welcome the next two emerging Indigenous scholars to the circle this summer.”

Read the full opinion piece in University Affairs. 


If you would like to develop your own mentorship program for new Indigenous faculty, please reach out. If you’d like to participate in one of our webinars for Indigenous scholars, either as a participant or a speaker, please contact shauneen.pete@royalroads.ca.