Athabasca University Honors RCCC PresidentAug 15th, 2006 | By tcj | Category: 18-1: The Winding Road to Student Success, Tribal College News
Athabasca University honored a woman who has spent her life building communities of cultural knowledge. An honorary Doctor of Letters was conferred on Marie Smallface-Marule (Blood Nation/Blackfoot Confederacy) in June 2006.
“My father wanted me to fight for First Nations causes,” she said. “He knew education was needed to do that effectively. I wanted to get a good education as a means to an end … People have to inform and empower themselves to facilitate real community development.”
Early on, Smallface-Marule recognized that education encouraging assimilation and indoctrination did not serve aboriginal students well. She now works on developing education that respects cultural heritage and includes indigenous identity.
In her 14 years as president of Red Crow Community College (RCCC, Blood Reserve, Canada), Smallface-Marule has strived to design an institution that meets the needs of aboriginal students. “It is important that our culture, traditions, and knowledge as Kainai (Blackfoot people) be transferred to future generations,” she said.
In June, the first group of Native teachers trained in Blackfoot curriculum development (a degree granted jointly by RCCC and the University of Lethbridge) graduated. “We hope to link First Nations knowledge and culture to other programs,” Smallface-Marule said, “to make it part of people’s lives in conscious and academic ways.”