Response to the petition has been positive. Image: AÉÉIPPSSA/Provided.
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“Efforts to Indigenize programs at the School of Political Studies have been ongoing for a few years.”

On Jan. 25, the International, Political, and Policy Studies Student Association (AÉÉIPPSSA) launched a petition urging the University of Ottawa (U of O) administration to “Indigenize” the School of Political Studies. 

The petition calls for the incorporation of “Indigenous knowledge/teachings into [the School of Political Studies] curriculum, by mandating students to take one course on Indigenous topics … from a group of compulsory courses at any point in their undergraduate degree.”

In a statement to the Fulcrum, AÉÉIPPSSA President, Shailee Shah, said the petition is the latest activity in the association’s efforts to make courses on Indigenous topics foundational to their studies.

“AÉÉIPPSSA’s efforts to Indigenize programs at the School of Political Studies have been ongoing for a few years. We have encouraged and supported the School in taking progressive steps in the past, such as adding language to the course descriptions of pre-existing courses in an effort to urge the professors responsible for teaching them to add Indigenous material to them.”

“This year, with the unique opportunity to highlight the work of student associations at a January Faculty Council meeting, myself and our Vice-Presidents of Academic Affairs (Chai Lenaduwa, Public Administration; Lewis Wilson, Political Science; and Kerrissa Constant, International Studies and Modern Languages) saw a window to mobilize student voices in relation to this ongoing file.”

Shah pointed to the program objectives listed on the school’s webpage and stated that AÉÉIPPSSA believes their initiative would allow the U of O to meet them more effectively.

“Our firm view is that concepts such as power, authority, opposition, and resistance are impossible to learn without forming an understanding of the history and nature of politics in Canada in an Indigenous context.”

“The University of Ottawa and the School of Political Studies desire to maintain a commitment to reconciliation and the inclusivity of Indigenous students on and off campus, and our hope is that this commitment to reconciliation can be exhibited through mandating students to obtain an education that is centred around decolonization and an understanding of the lasting effects of settler colonialism on history, politics, economics, etc.”

Response to the petition has been positive, Shah added.

“In just two days [since] releasing it, the petition reached over 100 signatures, with many students promoting it and sending messages of support on social media, as well. Students can still sign the petition, and we urge them to do so.”

Conversations between AÉÉIPPSSA and Jill Scott, Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs, are ongoing, according to Shah. 

“Now that we have presented the petition’s results, we will be meeting with [the administration] to lay out a formal proposal with a course sequence/timeline of what every program at the School of Political Studies would look like with the implementation of this policy. We will also be working with other student associations at the Faculty to support their efforts in the Indigenization of their programs as well.”

On behalf of the U of O, Jesse Robichaud, director of issues management and media relations, wrote that the School of Political Studies is examining the several new or revised courses from the School’s Indigenization Action Plan.

“Whereas none of these courses has yet been made obligatory, in the Request to Senate for the creation and modification of these courses, the School has indicated that it will consider making at least one of these courses obligatory in the future and is actively exploring how this could be implemented.”

To garner more support for the petition, AAÉÉIPPSSA asks students to “continue signing, sharing, and mobilizing.”


  • Yannick Mutombo is the News Associate at the Fulcrum. He recently graduated with an Honours B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in English from the University of Ottawa, and is currently pursuing opportunities in journalism and freelance writing. His interests include, but aren't limited to, people watching; an affinity to oversleeping; establishing soft deadlines. You can find him on Instagram: @thenotoriousself