Students petition to have Indigenous health course developed at Queen’s

Students petition to have Indigenous health course developed at Queen’s

A group of fourth-year Health and Kinesiology students came together to release a petition early the week of Nov. 22 asking Queen’s to offer an Indigenous health course open to all students.

According to Mariam Farooq, ArtSci ’23, the School of Health and Kinesiology currently doesn’t offer specific courses on Indigenous health that are open to all students on campus. The courses are currently restricted to upper year students in the program, according to Farooq.

Farooq and the other students who started the petition came together after taking a special topics HLTH course that has a specific focus on Indigenous resilience and vitality to promote self-determination of Indigenous peoples’ health.

Farooq believes recognizing one’s positionality in relation to the topic is important. She said everyone in the group is a settler and is participating in ongoing colonialism. Their main intention is for Indigenous peoples to have their voices heard through the medium of courses.

“We are just advocating for an Indigenous health studies course,” Farooq said in an interview with The Journal. “We aren’t Indigenous, and it might not reflect the beliefs and values ​​of everyone that is Indigenous—we don’t want to speak over their voices.”

Indigenous ways of knowing and understanding topics such as food sovereignty are important, according to Farooq. She believes increasing students’ access to a health course led by Indigenous instructors will open students to these topics.

“Queen’s fosters tens of thousands of health professionals, but the fact we don’t have proper education on Indigenous health is quite concerning. The lack of cultural competency is a big issue,” Farooq said.

Farooq believes health disparities for marginalized communities can be tackled through educating future generations. She said an important part of that is teachers being able to use their lived experiences in the classroom.

The group of students worked to create an infographic shared on social media under the Instagram page called the “Meraki Initiative.” The Meraki Initiative is a social justice non-profit organization that helped with promoting the petition and inforgraphic, according to Farooq.

The infographic incorporates statistics and information relating to course material the group of students engaged with. Farooq said the students are reaching out to other clubs and organizations on campus to promote the message. The group hopes the infographic can spark change and educate students.

Nathan Brinklow, associate head (Indigenous Studies) in Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, said the curriculum is constantly being developed and reassessed across the University with an eye towards Indigenization.

“If there is an interest in seeing courses centered on Indigenous health developed, the most effective way to try and make that happen is to talk to your professors, department heads and deans,” Brinklow said in a statement to The Journal.

“I am happy to support these kinds of curricular development and would be pleased to help anyone navigate this process if they care to reach out to me.”

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