To begin the relationship, WINHEC shared its expertise and methodology for organizational and program reviews, while also helping to define standards adopted by the IAESC’s Quality Assessment Board.
It all fits well with the Council’s broader mandate to work with Indigenous Institutes to enhance educational opportunities for students while promoting the revitalization of Indigenous knowledges, cultures and languages.
Robinson spoke before the MOU signing in Norway, beginning with recognition of the hard work Indigenous educators in Ontario have made building their post-secondary institutes in their communities.
“Indigenous Institutes were responding to their community’s wish and desire for post-secondary education and training … in their community,” Robinson said, noting specifically two in attendance, Rebecca Jamieson, president of Six Nations Polytechnic and Delbert Horton, IAESC board member and one of the founders of the Seven Generations Educational Institute.
They and others worked to establish their own institutes as far back as the 1980s with more communities coming on board across Ontario, Robinson said.
“Their leadership said: ‘We need something that meets the needs of our community members, that helps them, that educates them at home and brings them home,’ … and they rose to the challenge and worked very diligently for a long period of time,” she said.
An essential distinction of the Indigenous Institutes Act, 2017, she said, is that the legislation recognizes, rather than legally creates, Indigenous Institutes.
“The important piece is jurisdiction … it recognizes them and where the ownership lies. That’s very important,” Robinson said.
Robinson highlighted the realization that it’s all part of an even grander vision on a global scale.
In talking with WINHEC members about the MOU, she said it became clear it’s a step forward in an international effort.