Cape Breton University hires Mi'kmaw academic for advisory role

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Marie Battiste of Potlotek First Nation has been named an adviser at Cape Breton University.  (Facebook - image credit)
Marie Battiste of Potlotek First Nation has been named an adviser at Cape Breton University. (Facebook - image credit)

Cape Breton University is taking a step toward reconciliation with the creation of a new advisory position.

Marie Battiste of Potlotek First Nation will take on the role of special adviser to the vice president academic and to Unama'ki College on decolonizing the academy.

She said decolonizing academic programming is the process of aligning policy, practice and culture.

"All of that system has led to layers of bias, prejudice, discrimination, racism, and genocide," said Battiste. "All citizens need to understand what those things are and how they have been complicit."

Battiste has many claims to fame, including being an officer of the Order of Canada, and professor emerita of the University of Saskatchewan.

She attended Harvard and Stanford universities and her son, Jaime, is the first Mi'kmaw Member of Parliament.

In the new role, Battiste will help advance indigenization and reconciliation within the university.

Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC
Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC

Battiste has already started talking with different departments and faculty within the university to find out how they understand decolonization and reconciliation.

She said one way they can start the process, not just for CBU but other schools as well, is to hire Indigenous academics.

"Recognize that if they come with their own knowledge system, that that knowledge system needs to be acknowledged, rewarded and grown from within the context that they understand it," said Battiste.

Battiste is happy to be able to continue this work back at home.

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