“McMaster Daily News sat down with Robert Innes, incoming chair of the newly created Indigenous Studies department, to discuss building on the successes of existing Indigenous Studies program at McMaster.
What do you hope to achieve in your term as chair?
I haven’t yet had a meeting with the faculty, and I’m sure that they have ideas that we will work to prioritize, but I do have tentative and potential ideas to explore.
Certainly, we’ll need to look at developing the policies that new departments go through and evaluate our standards for promotion and tenure. We will no doubt be looking at curriculum review, what’s on our books, what potential areas we want to focus on, and whether we want to create a concentration so people can focus in on a certain area of interest.
We have some land based and experiential learning courses, and we will probably look at expanding those so students can get some hands-on experience in communities whether they’re on the reserve communities or are at local urban Indigenous organizations in Hamilton and surrounding areas. I’m looking forward to reaching out and making connections with the local Indigenous organizations and First Nations communities.
Another item we’ll be evaluating is the development of a graduate program in Indigenous studies at the masters and PhD levels. There are currently four PhD programs in Indigenous studies in the country, but only one in Ontario at Trent University, and so Ontario is, and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area more specifically, in need of more graduate programming in Indigenous studies and Indigenous content.
McMaster is ideally situated to make an imprint on Indigenous studies nationally and internationally.”