Oct. 20, 2023

2023-2024 Intercultural Capacity Building Grants aim to propel Indigenous knowledge and perspectives

New projects align with ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the university’s Indigenous Strategy
Caption: Discover the seven new projects using UCalgary's Intercultural Capacity Building Grants to promote truth and reconciliation.
Discover the seven new projects using UCalgary's Intercultural Capacity Building Grants to promote truth and reconciliation. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

From decolonizing academic writing to bringing Indigenous voices to the theatre, the University of Calgary’s Intercultural Capacity Building Grants are helping to fund seven new projects that emphasize the institution’s journey toward truth and reconciliation.

Guided by ii’ taa’poh’to’p, UCalgary’s Indigenous Strategy, and administered by the Office of Indigenous Engagement, the grants provide eligible students, faculty and staff members with funding of up to $10,000 for high-impact projects that support Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing, and connecting.

Grant winners must demonstrate Indigenous inclusion in all stages of development and performance, including leadership, evaluation, and co-ordination. Recipients have until August 2024 to use their funds toward building intercultural capacity and meaningful transformation.

This year’s successful projects range from research and methodology to practical applications that promote Indigenous perspectives in the academic sector.

Wagonstage Neighbourhood Adventures and Koko'Sinooniks

Wagonstage Children's Theatre, a work-integrated learning initiative for UCalgary drama students, offers free performances and workshops for children and families without access to live theatre. Their program, Neighbourhood Adventures, targets communities with high Indigenous populations to bridge the gap between educators and future arts leaders and urban-Indigenous children.

Using the grant, Neighborhood Adventures will join Koko'Sinooniks, a culturally based Indigenous program run by The City of Calgary that’s focused on fostering positive relationships and cultural awareness in children from Grades 1 to 6. Alongside Koko'Sinooniks, Neighborhood Adventures will strengthen relationships between educators and Indigenous communities while creating enriching learning opportunities for kids and advocating for a more inclusive society.

Academic Writing at the Confluence of Indigenous and Western Worldviews

The Faculty of Social Work, alongside other disciplines and communities, is leading a new project to uncover ways of bringing together diverse processes of academic writing. The research will seek to address the issue of assimilative and Eurocentric tendencies in academic writing and will focus on increasing Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in the curriculum for post-secondary students.

The project is set to make significant contributions to UCalgary’s efforts in decolonization and Indigenization through language. The grant will be used to create a shared space where individuals from various backgrounds can engage in meaningful dialogue, encouraging active listening and authentic, reciprocal, intercultural learning. The end goal is to empower impactful academic writing that challenges the conventional norms in academia.

Indigenizing the Nickle: Indigenous Alumni Exhibition

As a component of the larger project, Indigenizing the Nickle Galleries, which will be holding an exhibit of all-Indigenous artists in fall 2024, the Nickle Galleries will use the grant to showcase the artworks of eight Indigenous alumni who have completed the Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts programs at UCalgary.

Incorporating Indigenous perspectives within the university’s Department of Art and Art History brings a profound and inclusive learning experience for all students and strongly supports ii’ taa’poh’to’p on its mission to foster community engagement and intercultural connections.

Healing Gardens

The Healing Gardens project is led by the Indigenous Health Program within the Indigenous, Local and Global Health Office at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). The garden is a collaborative effort between the Faculty of Nursing and Alberta Health Services to include cultural connection, Indigenous health education, wellness, and land-based learning on both main and Foothills campuses.

The grant will ensure the project has the necessary resources to facilitate meaningful engagement with Traditional Knowledge Keepers and to create capacity for students to lead and sustain the initiative.

Place-based Sustainability Stories from Elders

Meaningful inclusion and Indigenous knowledge and worldviews in relationships to land and place is vital to advancing sustainability. As part of UCalgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy refresh and plan development, Elders from Treaty 7 and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3 will use the grant to co-create place-based sustainability stories.

These stories, shared through videos, will serve as educational tools, fostering cross-cultural sustainability learning for students, faculty and staff.

Engaging the community in the creation of the Barrier Lake Field Station Landscape Plan

The Biogeoscience Institute (BGI) at UCalgary manages the Barrier Lake Field Station in Kananaskis Country. This field station serves as an exceptional environment for conducting high-quality land-based research, fostering education and nurturing connections within the community.

With the support of the Elders Circle and other valued members of the Barrier Lake community, BGI will be using its grant to develop a site-specific Barrier Lake Landscape Plan. This plan will use the 2020 Main Campus Landscape Plan as a foundational framework.

The primary aim is to interpret the narratives of the Barrier Lake land respectfully and authentically. The intended result is a harmonious blend of Western and Indigenous viewpoints while emphasizing the crucial need for heightened awareness and appreciation of Indigenous culture.

Reimagining Indigenous Intercultural Capacity Training: Embodies Learning Co-Creation

Born from a partnership between the Faculty of Nursing and CSM’s Indigenous, Local and Global Health Office, this project seeks to create UCalgary’s own set of workshops and exercises that provide nursing and medicine students with access to Indigenous knowledge through a flexible and scalable model.

The program will use its grant to establish a UCalgary-owned program that emphasizes co-creation and intercultural capacity-building and increases accessibility by allowing exercises to be performed in both a physical and virtual setting.

Applications for next year's grants

Applications for next year’s grants will open in the spring. If you are interested in proposing a project that can impact the UCalgary campus community and beyond, visit the Office of Indigenous Engagement’s website for more information.

The University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.

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