Students driving conversations about truth and reconciliation

Leah Creaser smiles as she holds a fish specimen on a boat. Image courtesy Leah Creaser.
Last fall, fisheries biology grad student Leah Creaser taught a new course that highlights the concept of two-eyed seeing: learning to view both Mi'kmaw and Western knowledge together.  (Submitted by Leah Creaser)

Opening up conversations

Mi'kmaw biology grad student Leah Creaser knows the value of open-mindedness, conversation and action. She's working to address the lack of Indigenous perspectives in science education by introducing students and educators to the concept of Etuaptmumk, two-eyed seeing, which means learning to view both Mi'kmaw and Western knowledge together.

A science lab based on Mi'kmaw traditional knowledge that the Acadia University student created is now part of what first-year science students learn in their core biology course. Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) has also asked the 27-year-old to continue teaching a new course she first ran last fall that explored incorporating Mi'kmaw knowledge into the daily work of scientists, researchers and technicians.  

"The whole purpose of the [NSCC] course was to educate … people working in a science field on how valuable Indigenous voice is and that it shouldn't be brushed under the rug," Creaser said from Wolfville, N.S.

"If you're doing research close to someone's property, you're probably going to knock on their door and say 'Hey, if you see me, I'm working for Acadia and I'm doing this'... Why wouldn't you do that with Mi'kmaw communities or any Indigenous group?" she said.  

The in-person sessions last fall often ran an hour or two past when class officially ended, as the conversations — students sitting in a circle with her — regularly rippled out to topics like history, language use, addressing stereotypes and interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

"We can talk all the time about how [people] didn't have that true education," said Creaser, a two-spirit member of Acadia First Nation. " Well, what are we doing now? Let's start educating. I think that's a big part of reconciliation [and] that's what I'm trying to do."

After completing her master's degree, Creaser plans to pursue a PhD in fish biology in hopes of becoming a research professor with her own lab, while continuing to push for greater understanding and connection to cultural knowledge.

"I also want to include bringing in that Indigenous perspective, partnership and collaboration — and creating those relationships — throughout my career."

Read the full news story on CBC.

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