McMaster launching southern Ontario’s first Indigenous Studies master’s program this fall


Published February 12, 2024 at 9:13 pm

Indigenous Studies professor and McMaster Indigenous Research Institute director Savage Bear teaches a class in Indigenous Studies. The school is launching a graduate program this fall.

Applications are now open for McMaster University’s new Indigenous Studies graduate program, the first master’s program of its kind in southern Ontario.

The launch of the program comes after an “increased desire” for Indigenous content, research and graduate-level studies, with students to be trained to be leaders in Indigenous-led, community-based research and in setting policy.

First established as an undergraduate program in 1992, the Indigenous Studies Department has witnessed a rise in student demand for Indigenous content, research and graduate-level studies. To date, the program has trained more than 300 undergraduate students.

Until now, graduates had limited options to continue their studies, a gap the new program is designed to fill.

The students in the graduate program – McMaster will host its first cohort of Indigenous Studies graduate students this fall – will work closely with Indigenous faculty who have extensive experience in ethically cultivating community relationships.

The idea behind the master’s program is to retain and attract top Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders in Indigenous Studies research, creation and policy, as well as other allied disciplines, said Provost and vice-president (Academic) Susan Tighe.

“McMaster has been a Canadian leader in Indigenous education for three decades,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to work together in support of students, faculty and staff so they can pursue excellence in Indigenous scholarship and research.”

The program will provide students with an immersive, multidisciplinary experience that centres Indigenous Studies research methodologies and creation, theory, ways of knowing, and epistemologies while placing community reciprocity at the forefront., noted school President David Farrar.

“This program represents the next step toward growing Indigenous scholarship, celebrating Indigenous ways of knowing, and creating deeper connections with Indigenous communities.”

The program courses will prepare graduates for the complex, historical and interpersonal nature of the work ahead of them, added Robert Innes, who chairs the Indigenous Studies department.

“It’s important to us that the program is rooted in the community. Students will work closely with Indigenous faculty who have extensive experience in ethically cultivating community relationships,” Innes said. “Students will also take a hands-on course that will emphasize experiential, service, and land-based learning, taking students out of the classroom and into community.”

McMaster’s cohort of Indigenous faculty and instructors includes two Canada Research Chairs —Allan Downey and Chelsea Gabel — and the Paul R. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies, Vanessa Watts.

The program was approved by McMaster’s Senate in late December and subsequently received approval from the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance on Jan. 26. Applications opened Feb. 12.

Visit the MA in Indigenous Studies website or email [email protected] for more information.

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