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October 6, 2023
Indigenization of STEM requires more than inclusion initiatives
Faculty-led initiatives at Queen’s work to support Indigenous students, but the university has yet to achieve Indigenization in its STEM programs.
Indigenous Futures in Engineering (InEng) began in 2011 and was lauded by the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force as an exemplar of Indigenous programming at Queen’s. InEng engages Indigenous engineering students, building a community while providing them with academic supports to succeed, but InEng Director Melanie Howard, ArtSci ’95, Ed ’98, cautions against viewing inclusion as Indigenization.
“What I hear a lot, even though we do have the services, is that [Indigenous students] feel very alone. In a program like engineering, Indigenous representation isn’t high,” Howard said in an interview with The Journal.
Many years ago, Howard noticed a need for this community after a conversation with a colleague at Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre that highlighted engineering students’ underutilization of the centre’s services.