Indigenous Content Requirement

Jerri-Lynn Orr

Jerri-Lynn Orr, Indigenous Curriculum Specialist, began the role in May 2020. She is a student, teacher and researcher and holds a Master of Education in Education for Change: Specialization in Indigenous Education from Lakehead University. She is Cree/Metis and her family comes from Bigstone Cree Nation in Northern Alberta and much of her family resides in Winnipeg and Edmonton. She has worked at Lakehead University for 7 years and comes to this position from the Office of Indigenous Initiatives as the former Indigenous Transition Year Program coordinator. She has extensive experience in curriculum development focused on Indigenous Ways of Knowing and being, and has taught in high school, adult education, and post-secondary and has had the opportunity of facilitating many workshops inside and outside the university community.

One area of focus for Jerri-Lynn’s work is to build relationships, provide learning opportunities and wrap around supports for faculty and instructors who are working to implement Indigenous content into their teaching. Jerri-Lynn shares, “I believe it is important to create relationships both inside and outside the Lakehead community. It is through relationship building where we can come to understand and know one another and see value in our different ways of knowing and understanding of the world around us-but also find commonalities that can bring us together. My hope for this work is that everyone will see the value of Indigenous worldviews in teaching and learning and know that this way of teaching and learning is for everyone, and will have an impact on Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike. Coming from the ITYP, students are always at the forefront of my mind, and thinking about how teaching and learning in a culturally relevant way can create a space where Indigenous students can be successful in their post-secondary pursuits. There are many great things happening at Lakehead in relation to Indigenous education and I’m happy to be in this position to support our community as we move forward with the Indigenous Content Requirement.”

As the Indigenous Curriculum Specialist, Jerri-Lynn works to provide support for Lakehead University professors and instructors as they work to include Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Indigenous content into their courses and programs. She will also work with the wider community to build mutual understanding and meaningful conversations that will strengthen relationships inside and outside of Lakehead University.

FAQ’s about the Indigenous Content Requirement (ICR)

1. What is the Indigenous Content Requirement (ICR)?

Lakehead University made a commitment in May 2014 that by the beginning of the 2016/17 academic year, all academic units will have calendared for all of their undergraduate degree programs, a degree requirement of at least one 0.5 Full Course Equivalent course containing at least 50% (equivalent to 18 hours) of Indigenous knowledge and/or Aboriginal content.

2. Who made this decision on behalf of the University?

The decision was made by Senate. Senate is the highest academic decision making body in the University with representation from all Academic departments, Student Affairs, the Aboriginal Governance Council, the Board of Governors, and the Lakehead University Student Union.

3. Why was this decision taken?

Extensive internal and external consultation, leading to the development of our Strategic (2013-18) and Academic Plans (2012-17), resulted in a recommendation that all students would benefit from the integration of program appropriate or discipline relevant knowledge about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Other Universities and Colleges across the country have implemented or are examining how to enrich their curricula in similar ways. We are fortunate Lakehead has faculty and staff with a wealth of expertise in this area that will help us meet this goal.

4. I’m currently a student. Does the ICR affect me?

No. Only students who enter programs after Sept 2016 are affected by this decision. However, many programs already incorporate Indigenous knowledge or Aboriginal content as part of their curriculum and many Academic Units already deliver courses that include a minimum of 18 hours of Indigenous knowledge or Aboriginal content.

5. Do I have to take a particular course? Is this a “one size fits all” decision?

No. The ICR does NOT require that every student take exactly the same course. As noted above, some programs already meet the ICR with their current structure. All Academic Units have developed their own ways to include this curriculum in their programs. This includes courses directly embedded in the program or choosing electives from a range of courses available from different departments addressing many areas of academic interest.

6. Do I have to take an EXTRA course?

No. The Indigenous content requirement can be met in many different ways and the Chair/Director of each Academic Unit is working to ensure it is embedded seamlessly in each program.

7. Do I have to pay anything EXTRA?

No. As part of the normal program requirements, there are no additional cost.

8. Ok, I understand I don’t have to fulfil this requirement now but what if I want to take a course that meets this objective?

Speak to your Chair/Director about course options that will fit into your program or check with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives for more information.