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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Five Indigenous students make history by undertaking PhD in native studies at University of Alberta | Edmonton Journal

University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies now offering PhD for first time summarizes Juris Graney, Edmonton Journal.
Jeanine LeBlanc is one of five postdoctoral students who this year began the first ever PhD Native Studies program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, November 6, 2017.
Photo: Ed Kaiser / Postmedia   

Five Indigenous students have become the first cohort to undertake a PhD at the University of Alberta’s faculty of native studies, a watershed moment for the province’s largest university.

The faculty, recognized as the only independent faculty of native studies in North America, has been building the three-year doctoral program since 2012 to add to its four undergraduate programs and master’s program. 

One of the architects of the program, faculty dean Chris Andersen, said its creation was a natural development.

“It was a bit strange that we didn’t have a PhD program,” Andersen said in a recent interview.

“We are super excited because we are building a discipline and we are building a discipline institutionally from the inside out. It’s something that we worked our tails off to achieve.”

One of the PhD candidates, Jeanine LeBlanc, said she was honoured to be part of the landmark class. 

“When I feel overwhelmed, I have to go back to the fact that they actually chose my project and they chose me to come and do this,” LeBlanc said.

“Honestly, I feel kind of honoured. This is a project that has been very close to my heart for a very long time.”

LeBlanc, who identifies as Mi’kmaq-Acadian, wants to investigate the interaction between religious institutions — particularly Catholicism — and Mi’kmaq women.

LeBlanc, who studied at the University of Winnipeg and the Asbury Theological Seminary near Lexington, Ky., in particular wants to examine the relationship of Mi’kmaq women and Saint Anne, the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus in Christian tradition.

Source: Edmonton Journal