Indigenous Knowledge Fund created at Laurier

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Wilfrid Laurier University has created an Indigenous Knowledge Fund in order to support and encourage the presence of Indigenous content within academic settings on both the Waterloo and Brantford campus.

Last year, Laurier Brantford’s faculty of Indigenous Studies, in collaboration with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and the Office of the Dean of Students, created the fund.

“We thought that the knowledge fund would be a great way to provide some resources for faculty to bring Indigenous knowledge when they want to go over Indigenous content,” said Lianne Leddy, professor of Indigenous Studies at Laurier.

The funds can be used for various academic purposes, but have primarily been used to assist in bringing guest speakers and for field trips related to Indigenous knowledge. 

“It’s part of the strategic academic plan for the institution as a whole and it’s part of Laurier’s commitment to truth and reconciliation and I think it’s something that all students should be able to benefit from equally.”

Leddy explained that the funds are administered through Brantford’s Office of the Dean of Students; however, the allocation of the funds stems from a small committee made up of herself, Jean Becker, senior advisor of Indigenous initiatives on Laurier’s Waterloo campus, as well as a student representative. 

“We decide as a committee what the funds can assist with — but 100 per cent of that money goes to classroom activities, field trips, that sort of thing.”

Since the fund was first created, the Brantford campus has raised approximately $20,000.

In light of the fund’s success, a second fund, started through Hawk Starter, was created with intentions to support multi-campus initiatives.

“In response to Dr. Widdowson’s talk [held by] Laurier Society for Open Inquiry, in the past few weeks, I asked the WLUFA diversity and equity committee to start a Hawk Starter campaign so that people, if they chose to, could support the establishment of the fund across all campuses,” Leddy said. 

Within the past few weeks, the new fund has already accumulated over $6,000. 

“We’re hoping to make this sustainable … we do think there’s a lot of value to building bridges between Indigenous communities and the institution as well. Obviously the benefits to students are very positive, so we’re hoping to make this a more sustainable thing,” Leddy said. 

With a new Laurier campus coming to Milton, Leddy noted that she hopes the funds will secure equal, knowledgeable content for all Laurier students. 

“Making sure that students have access to the same programming across all campuses is vital as a multi-campus institution,” Leddy said. 

“It’s part of the strategic academic plan for the institution as a whole and it’s part of Laurier’s commitment to truth and reconciliation and I think it’s something that all students should be able to benefit from equally.”

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