By Anam Raheel
On July 1, Associate Professor Ruth Green began her term as special advisor to the dean on Indigenous issues at the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). Green will advise the LA&PS Office of the Dean on ways in which to address the impact and histories of systematic barriers experienced by Indigenous peoples.
The appointment is in alignment with The Indigenous Framework for York University: A Guide to Action and the University’s Academic Plan, the LA&PS Academic Plan, and the Principles on Indigenous Education developed by Universities Canada in 2015.
“Administration is something I am passionate about. I believe strongly that we need Indigenous representation, Indigenous voice, and Indigenous ideas. It does not just benefit Indigenous students and faculty, it benefits everybody,” said Green.
She strongly feels that every program and subject in the Faculty of LA&PS can promote a discussion and further enhance the study on Indigenization. According to Green, it is imperative to bring in research that is Indigenous-led and free of disparity since research has been harmful to Indigenous communities in the past.
“The Faculty’s academic plan has social justice embedded in it, which is about equity,” Green added, “for me, it is about finding ways to support each other, see each other and build forward respectfully. I think it is part of our responsibility as an educational institution.”
The emphasis is also on incorporating Indigenous ways of teaching and learning. Green’s new role aims to help promote and build a safer space for students, staff and faculty where they find themselves reflected and supported. She says, “we need to read people differently, knowing that they are welcome, not just because they are Indigenous but because they’ve met the requirements.”
Green’s journey at York University started in 2014 as an associate professor in the School of Social Work, while a consistent passion for equity and Indigenization allowed her to step in as Chair of the Indigenous Council. Being able to work with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, led to the development and creation of the Indigenous Framework and Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Languages (CIKL).
Green’s application of Indigenous pedagogy to her teaching also earned her a 2018 President’s University-Wide Teaching Award. She identifies as an urban Indigenous person and is a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Green is from the Mohawk Nation and a member of the Turtle Clan.
Green said that LA&PS Dean JJ McMurtry and the entire team in the dean’s office are signaling their commitment to hiring Indigenous faculty members and scholars, and plan to embed changes in the curriculum with new courses and Indigenous content. External partnerships and community connections are also on the agenda as a part of the many initiatives planned.
Green hopes that the conversation will eventually extend beyond York noting, “none of us solely belong to the York community, the more we all learn the more we infiltrate society. Mentors like JJ McMurtry, Alice Pitt and Rhonda Lenton who want to see us succeed will help us do that.”