University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada course sees enrolment boost

An online course at the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories in Canada has seen a massive uptick in enrolment following the horrific discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at a residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

The U of A’s Faculty of Native Studies’ Indigenous Canada course has seen new sign-ups double from the week before.

Read more: Residential schools: What we know about their history and how many died

Last week, about 1,000 new students signed up for the course, which the U of A said it pretty average. This week, the number of new students jumped to around 3,500.

The 12-lesson, massive open online course (MOOC) explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.

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The increase in interest in the program comes days after the remains of 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School last week. The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said last week that the remains were found by a ground-penetrating radar specialist.

Read more: Trudeau vows ‘concrete action’ after discovery of 215 bodies at former residential school site

In the days since the discovery, there have been calls from across the country and right here in Alberta to rename schools, train stations and other public places that are named after the architects of the residential school system.

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The Indigenous Canada course is free to the public, but can also be taken for a fee as part of a university degree. A third option, with a smaller fee, gives the participant a certificate.

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Read more: Canadian star Dan Levy signs up for Indigenous course at University of Alberta, invites millions to join

Topics covered in the course include:

  • the fur trade and other exchange relationships
  • land claims and environmental impacts
  • legal systems and rights
  • political conflicts and alliances
  • Indigenous political activism
  • contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions

The course also received a boost last summer, after Canadian actor and Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy took the course and encouraged his followers to do the same.

More information on the U of A course can be found on the university’s website.

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