Canadian, Mexican universities converge for Aboriginal round table

Nine Canadian universities and eight indigenous universities in Mexico will together focus on improving Aboriginal educational experiences and research collaborations during a one-day round table meeting at the University of Lethbridge on June 22, 2013.

Building on the momentum of a similar meeting held in Mexico City in March 2012, university presidents, Aboriginal advisors and elders will move forward initiatives pertaining to student mobility, research collaboration and community engagement as it relates to Aboriginal higher education.

"Continued dialogue between Canadian and Mexican universities about best practices and increased collaboration will serve the needs of students in both of our countries," says Dr. Brian Stevenson, president of Lakehead University. "Removing barriers for Aboriginal students is a shared goal of all participants and this round table will help institutions in both countries make important progress in this critical area."

For the past 10 years, the federal and state governments in Mexico have partnered to create a number of regional universities, called Intercultural Universities, to improve post-secondary access to indigenous peoples. For decades now Canadian universities have also worked to increase access for Aboriginal students and to improve outreach to Aboriginal communities.

At the conclusion of the inaugural meeting between the Intercultural Universities and 10 Canadian Institutions in Mexico last year, Canadian and Mexican university presidents committed to both bilateral and consortium level partnerships to promote student and faculty mobility, joint research initiatives and cultural exchanges. Agreement was reached at that time to host a second meeting in Canada.

"The U of L is excited to host and participate in this important meeting," says University of Lethbridge President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Mike Mahon. "The U of L has long recognized the important role it must play in creating access for Aboriginal post-secondary students and this round table will certainly help us shape future directions and initiatives."

Federal, provincial, municipal and Aboriginal representatives have been invited to participate in some of the sessions.

In addition to the one-day round table, and to celebrate National Aboriginal Day in Canada on June 21, participants from both countries will participate in a series of cultural activities to broaden the understanding of Alberta's Aboriginal communities. This will include visiting the Kainai and Piikani First Nations communities and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.