Dean's message

UAlberta Native Studies Dean Brendan HokowhituTân’si/ Tēnā koutou Firstly, I want to recognize the Indigenous territory where the Faculty of Native Studies and the University of Alberta are located, a welcoming place for peoples from around the world. I acknowledge those diverse Indigenous peoples, such as the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Métis, and Nakota Sioux, whose physical and metaphysical imprints have for centuries defined this place.

I also share my genealogical roots in my own language:

Ko Mataatua te waka - My canoe is Mataatua
Ko Tauranga te moana - My sea is Tauranga
Ko Mauao te maunga - My mountain is Mauao
Ko Whetū-ō-te-Rangi te marae - My gathering place is Whetū-ō-te-Rangi
Ko Ngāti Pūkenga te iwi - My people are Ngāti Pūkenga.

It is an incredible honour for me to be working with an amazing team of faculty, staff, students and alumni dedicated to the vibrancy of Native Studies and its vision:

To produce a better society by educating indigenous and non-indigenous students and communities to be better citizens through excellent research and teaching focused on contemporary indigenous issues and thought.

I come from a history of working and publishing in the exciting field of indigenous studies, having been in a Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies School for a decade, where I researched in various fields such as indigenous critical theory, indigenous masculinity, indigenous media and popular culture, and indigenous sport.

Choosing an educational path is not easy, yet education should be thought of as opening as opposed to closing doors. The Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta opens doors; it is entirely unique, being the only Faculty of its kind in North America, providing its students with a wholly distinctive experience. Class sizes are small, the Faculty provides a warm, close-knit, friendly and safe space that nurtures a family-like environment where students are taught by worldclass professors who are leaders in their various fields of research, and focused on student-centred learning. Native Studies can be a life-altering experience where you will make friends for life with a vibrant student community, led by a strong and active student body, and linked to an impressive Alumni who have proven to be our contemporary leaders.

Native Studies is in vogue due to defining events such as Idle No More. The Faculty of Native Studies will provide you with a transformative experience, which will equip you with the critical analytical skills needed to work between worlds. Moreover, the Faculty’s autonomy enables a space where we can begin to imagine a world inflected by and through indigenous knowledge!

The successes of our existing Combined Degrees with the Faculties of Education and ALES, and partnerships with other Faculties like Physical Education through the Certificate in Aboriginal Sport and Recreation, is a testament to the importance of interdisciplinary education through Native Studies.

Students from all academic backgrounds (such as Law, Business, Physical Education, Nursing, Rehabilitation Medicine, Medicine and Dentistry, Science, Arts and Engineering) are beginning to recognize the importance of Native Studies to a well-rounded education. Students and graduates from other faculties are seeking after degrees or minors in Native Studies, and are making erudite choices such embedding the Aboriginal Governance and Partnership Certificate in their degree.

Combinations of any program with Native Studies means that these graduates will command a specialized education that is a desired commodity. For example, in the most recent Employment Survey of University of Alberta Graduates, 100 per cent of those Faculty of Native Studies graduates who responded (3 and 5 years after graduation) were employed!!

Guided by the University of Alberta's first president, Henry Marshall Tory, the UofA’s mantra is ‘Uplifting the Whole People’. Whatever educational or societal background you are from, the culture and knowledge of indigenous peoples and the history of colonization is key to an education that values ‘knowing where you are, knowing who you are, and knowing where you are going’. Therefore, I want to turn Tory’s vision on its head in relation to the well-rounded education Native Studies enables: ‘Only Whole People Can Uplift’.

Brendan Hokowhitu
Dean, Faculty of Native Studies