M’CHIGEENG – The myriad of moving parts that involve the restructuring of Laurentian University and its unilateral dissolution of its federated colleges, including the University of Sudbury, which hosted a highly regarded Indigenous Studies program, has left many in the education industry scrambling for answers—of which there are few and far between due in large part to the secrecy surrounding the creditor protection negotiations.
“It is so unfortunate,” said Stephanie Roy, executive director of Kenjegewin Teg in M’Chigeeng, of the Indigenous Studies program. “This will impact students, staff and faculty. That is part of the concern for us, there is so much empathy we have for them.”
Ms. Roy said there were too many moving parts at present to be able to chart the course forward for Kenjgewin Teg in regards to taking up the University of Sudbury Indigenous Studies charter.
“That is one of the questions put forward by the University of Sudbury, looking at the charter,” she said. “I really only know what I have been able to put together from social media posts, but it appears they only want to keep the Francophone charter.”
One of the major post-secondary changes that have taken place in Ontario since the Indigenous Studies charter was first established at University of Sudbury back in the 1960s is that there are now nine Indigenous educational institutions recognized by the province in legislation, noted Ms. Roy. Kenjgewin Teg received legislative recognition in 2017.
That may help pave the way for Kenjgewin Teg to take up that charter, but among the moving parts is the question of whether doing so would be beneficial for Kenjgewin Teg, its students, staff and faculty. It is simply too soon in the process to determine the answers to those questions.
“What concerns us is, what is going to happen to the quality program development that has taken place over the past 40 years?” said Ms. Roy. “We want to see continuity in the North and hope that quality programming will continue.”
One of the things that Kenjgewin Teg is focussed on at present is what will happen to those resources that have been developed, many of which Kenjgewin Teg had a hand in helping to create. “How do we preserve those resources where we can have the most positive impact on student learners?”
Ms. Roy said she hoped the mists would clear better once the April 30 deadline for Laurentian’s restructuring had come and gone (that is when the university’s bridge financing is set to expire). “A lot has to do with information,” she said. “There are so many pieces moving in tandem with the April 30 part of the Laurentian University timeline.”
“I think there is tremendous opportunity despite this situation,” said Ms. Roy. Those opportunities may well involve continuing to work with Laurentian University or the University of Sudbury once the dust has settled.
“We have collaborated on courses in the past,” she said. “There may be opportunities going forward. Our collaborations have always done quite well. We will see on May 1, when we know what the impacts are going to be.”
Laurentian University announced on Monday that 58 undergraduate programs are to be closed while 107 will remain open. There are 34 English-language programs to be closed along with 24 French-language programs. Also as part of the restructuring, 11 graduate programs will be closed and 33 are to remain open.
The closed programs include: actuarial science, anthropology, archaeology, the bachelor of arts four year concurrent education (primary-junior), bachelor of science four year concurrent education (primary-junior), bachelor of fine arts in music, bachelor of fine arts in music performance, biomedical physics, civil engineering (first two years), concurrent education, professional year (primary-junior), ecology, entrepreneurship, environmental geoscience, environmental science, environmental studies, geography, international management, Italian, labour studies, major restoration ecology, mathematics, midwifery, modern languages, music, music studies, operations, philosophy, physics, political science, radiation therapy—Michener, restoration biology, Spanish, web data management and workplace and labour studies.
The list of discontinued French language programs include: droit et politique, éducation – intermédiaire/supérieur, études de l’environnement, études françaises, génie chimique, génie mécanique, génie minier, géographie, histoire, littérature et culture francophone, marketing (FR), mathématiques, nursing—Boreal, outdoor adventure leadership (FR), philosophie, planification financière, promotion de la santé, resources humaines, sage femme, science du language, science économique, science politique, theatre and zoologie.
The list of discontinued graduate programmes include: maîtrise-histoire-essai, maîtrise-histoire-thèse, maîtrise-sociologie-essai, maîtrise-sociologie-thèse, masters-experimental psychology, masters-history-essay, masters-history-thesis, masters-humanities, masters-physics, masters-sociology-essay and masters-sociology-thesis.
Laurentian University has assured students that all would be able to complete their programs, despite the discontinuation of programs.