For the first time at Champlain, the English department was able to offer an Indigenous Literature class thanks to collaboration between Indigenous Pedagogy Consultant Diane Labelle, Indigenous Student Life Counsellor Jennifer Kanerahtorónkwas Paul and teacher Emma Gerlach.

Students in the class have gotten to benefit from nearly a dozen guest speakers from the Kanien’kéhá:ka community of Kahnawà:ke who have come in throughout the term to share their stories, experiences and knowledge with students. All the events hosted on campus have been open to the wider college community and provided a chance for interested students, staff and faculty members to sit in and learn alongside the students in the Indigenous Literature class.

Jennifer Kanerahtorónkwas Paul said that this was a goal from the beginning to ensure that all members of the Champlain community would be invited to participate and learn from the guest speakers.

In April, Paul invited her mother, grandmother and niece to present at a lecture on matriarchy and the roles of women in Kanien’kéhá:ka society and history.  Guest speakers have been invited to present on a number of different topics throughout the term, including on sovereignty, the creation story, land expropriation, the Oka Crisis and more.

“It will open up their view on not only the struggles that Indigenous people have gone through but the strength and resiliency of how we continue to move on,” said Paul.

“There are so many ways that the students can be touched by this course. When they are looking back on their Cegep journey in 10 years from now, they’ll know that all the strength and power that went into treating this course was extremely valuable.”

Teacher Emma Gerlach started planning the course in Winter 2022, in consultation with Diane Labelle and the Indigenous Student Ambassadors.

Gerlach said it was important to “create the necessary space to have actual Indigenous voices in the classroom,” and that everything about the course from the texts that were studied to the methods of assessment were done in consultation and with Indigenous pedagogy in mind.

She went on to emphasize the incredible contributions of Paul and the guest speakers to the course, saying that “this course would have been impossible without Jennifer and the real commitment, time, energy and labour of Kanien’kéhá:ka community members.”

Gerlach said that thanks to the contributions of the community members, her students had the chance to be part of a unique learning experience.

“It’s not a class that can be recreated. This is a moment in time that they have the privilege to be part of. I feel really lucky to get to learn as much as I do with them,” she added.

Thanks to all the guest speakers and Kahnawa’kehró:non (Kahnawà:ke community members) who gave up their time to be apart of the course.

Ahonwa’kerane Stacey

Dwayne Stacey

Harley Delaronde

Karonhiahá:wi Sheila McComber

Miles Horn

Tahothoratie Cross

Peter Paul

Hannah McGregor Pelletier

Emma Kahente Ouimet

Sha’teiohseriio Patton

Teioniehtàthe Eli Hamelin