Two Mi’kmaw scholars join Mount Allison University
SACKVILLE, NB — Mount Allison University will welcome two renowned Mi’kmaw scholars to its campus. Professor Marsha Vicaire is a member of Listuguj First Nation and Professor Sacha Dewolfe is a member of Natoaganeg First Nation and have joined the University community as tenure-track professors specializing in Indigenous studies. Vicaire began her appointment on July 1 while Dewolfe’s appointment begins in 2022.
Both professors embody unique approaches to learning and will work toward incorporating Indigenous knowledges across departments on campus.
“We are honoured to welcome Marsha Vicaire and Sacha Dewolfe to help guide Mount Allison’s continued efforts on the path of Truth and Reconciliation and decolonization,” says Mount Allison University Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research Dr. Jeff Hennessy. “Their academic achievements and community initiatives are impressive and they will bring a wealth of Indigenous knowing and community scholarship to our campus.”
Sacha Dewolfe has been an educator for the past 15 years and has worked in various education roles in New Brunswick including: First Nation Co-ordinator for Anglophone School District West; First Nation Learning Specialist and Director for the Office of First Nation Education for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Currently completing her PhD at the University of New Brunswick, Dewolfe’s research explores the social, political, and historical factors that have informed Indigenous identity, drawing on her own experience.
“There is enormous potential for this community-based approach to enhance First Nation student access to post-secondary education through Mount Allison in a number of innovative ways, such as experiential and personalized learning,” says Dewolfe. “Utilizing the community as the learning environment provides opportunities for students, industry, and community to collaborate, foster relationships and contribute to economic growth. I am beyond excited to embark on this journey.”
Dewolfe helped to create the newly-developed Institute for Transformational Education, a partnership agreement between Mount Allison and Three Nations Education Group Inc. (TNEGI) to advance Indigenous education opportunities in New Brunswick. At Mount Allison she will be teaching in the prospective Indigenous Studies program and Community Engaged Learning. She will join the University in 2022.
Marsha Vicaire is a scholar of educational psychology, currently completing her PhD at McGill University. Fluent in Mi’kmaq, her research program examines how cultural identity influences the academic experiences and personal well-being of Indigenous students. Her interest in how Indigenous languages can be maintained when facing a rapid decline has been the focus of much of her professional experiences, including the opportunity to attend the high-level event of the UN General Assembly on the Conclusion of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages at the United Nations Headquarters, New York City.
“I am excited to continue and build on the important work of indigenizing spaces and curricula at Mount Allison and with the wider community,” says Vicaire. “Creating space for Indigenous research methodologies and inclusive learning environments are key to moving forward.”
From Listuguj First Nation, Vicaire has served in local government and taught at McGill University’s Office of First Nations and Inuit Education within the Department of Integrated Studies of Education with a focus on creating inclusive classrooms.
Here she uses the two-eyed seeing principles incorporating both Indigenous and Western ways of learning and world views. At Mount Allison, she will be teaching classes in Mi’kmaw language, Mi'kma'ki, and Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Canada through the University’s Canadian Studies program.
Vicaire has 20 years of experience working in the areas of mental health, research, and education and has held leadership positions in both management and governance at a local level. She has been involved in strength-based projects focused on the promotion of mental health, resilience, and well-being of Indigenous peoples.
As a previous Executive Director of a small non-profit organization, she coached a high-quality team in aquatic resource management for three member communities and served as a board member for various health and natural resources committees, as well as an elected councillor for her community.
In recent years, Mount Allison University has worked to increase its commitments to truth and reconciliation including in its academic offerings with courses in Indigenous history and culture.
Community programming and supports for Indigenous students have also been established including the opening of Mawita’mkw, an Indigenous gathering space, a Sacred Sweat Lodge, Teepee, and Indigenous Gardens across campus. The Mi’kmaw flag flies permanently on campus as do Red Dress memorials.
The University has partnered with local Indigenous communities on these initiatives and learns from their guidance through Mount Allison’s Indigenous Advisory Circle and office of Indigenous Affairs.
Mount Allison acknowledges, honours, and pays respect to the traditional owners and custodians (from all four directions), of the land on which we gather. It is upon the unceded ancestral lands of the Mi’kmaw people that Mount Allison University is built. While this area is known as Sackville, NB the territory is part of the greater territory of Mi'kma'ki. Mount Allison expresses gratitude for the opportunity to live, work, and play on this land.