Western University First Nations StudiesWestern Social Science

Course descriptions

Overview

First Nations Studies is an interdisciplinary program of study that allows students to either specifically focus on Indigenous topics or to combine their program with any other undergraduate program. The degree structure consists of modules which may be selected after the first year of study is completed. This format allows students to customize their course selections. Students may combine courses from various departments and faculties that match their academic goals and interests and also achieve a broader knowledge base. The module selection is completed under the guidelines of three-year or four year degrees.

Core courses are offered every year, while electives are usually offered in alternate year. The annual program timetable summarizes courses offered each academic year.

Course Types

Core Courses

(FNS) 1020E: Introduction to First Nations Studies

In First Nations Studies, the introductory course is a prerequisite for admission to the program modules. You need it to enrol in a Minor, Major or Honors module in First Nations Studies. A minimum grade of 60% (70% if you wish to pursue a Honors Specialization), is required for this course in order to pursue an undergraduate degree in First Nations Studies. A variety of contemporary First Nations topics will be examined from both academic and community perspectives. Students will learn key terms, facts, events, issues, worldviews and lifestyles of First Nations peoples in Canada. Students will be introduced to current Indigenous scholarship, cultural experts, Elders and researchers. 

Other core courses offered yearly include:

  • FNS 2112E - Iroquoian Language & Culture
  • FNS 2113 - Algonquin Language & Culture
  • FNS 2217 - First Nations Traditional Cultures of Canada
  • FNS 2218 - Contemporary First Nations Issues in Canada
  • FNS 2901 - First Nations in Canadian History
  • FNS 3140 - Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions. Required for graduation.
  • FNS 3722 - First Nations Political and Legal Issues. Required for graduation.

Language Courses

Algonquin and Iroquoian language courses are offered each year.  Both courses are taught by fluent speakers. Students not only learn a native language but also explore the relationships of language to cultural concepts. Both language courses are full year courses. First Nations Studies 2112E - Iroquoian Language & Culture is a Mohawk language course, while First Nations Studies 2113 - Algonquin Language & Culture provides instruction in the Ojibway language.

Alternate-Year Courses

A number of courses are offered in alternate years. These courses generally address special topics relevant to First Nations Studies and may include but are not limited to topics such as Aboriginal Landscapes in Ontario, Archeology of Ontario & the Great Lakes, Andean Prehistory, First Nations in the Media, Indigenous Feminism, etc.

Special Topics, Reading Courses & Supervised Readings/Research In First Nations Studies

A number of Special Topic courses are offered each year. These are senior level courses and students wishing to enrol in these courses require approval from the First Nations Studies Program Director. Topics selected for these specialized studies address issues of relevance to Indigenous peoples. Courses may take the form of field work, a community project, curriculum design or directed research.

Information on First Nations Studies Courses

First Nations Studies Program Entrance Required Course

FNS 1020E: Introduction to First Nations Studies

First Nations Issues will be examined from academic and community perspectives. Students will learn key terms, facts, events, issues, worldviews and lifestyles of First Nations peoples in Canada. Students will be introduced to current Indigenous scholarship, cultural experts, Elders and researchers.

Course syllabus 2017

First Nations Studies Language Courses

FNS 2101E Iroquoian perspectives & Tradition

In this course the student will be introduced to the mechanics opf the Mohawk Language and will examine the relationships of that language to various culturally relevant concepts.

For more information, please contact Mr. David Kanatawakhon-Maracle

FNS 2113: Algonquian Language & Culture

In this course, students will learn Ojibway through oral presentations, the sound system, vocabulary, and sentence structure of the language. Storytelling, songs, dances, plays, chants and cultural teachings throughout the course are used to illustrate the relationships of the language and cultural concepts.

Course syllabus 2016/17. For more information on the course, please contact Mr. Mario Wassaykeesic.

First Nations Studies 2000 Level Core Courses

FNS 2217G: First Nations Traditional Cultures of Canada

This course is designed to introduce students to Indigenous perspectives of their cultures by removing the colonial trap of seeing Indigenous cultures as being inferior or "stuck in time". The course will focus upon original teachings and examine the contributions of Indigenous cultures to the world community. Students will examine how cultural change impacts lifestyle, race relations, class systems and the role of gender within society. The historical impact will be touched on in relation to impact on the cultural growth and change. The format of the course includes lectures, films, speakers and interactive activities that encourage discussion.

Course Syllabus 2016/17 For more information on the course, please contact Brent Stonefish.

FNS 2218F: Contemporary First Nations Issues in Canada

In this course, students examine contemporary social and political issues of Indigenous Peoples of Canada within a globalized context. Students will focus on a number of key issues such as: Identity and Language, Media Representation, Political Relations, Education, Land Claims, Social Justice, Sovereignty/Aboriginal Rights, Community Development and Contemporary Cultural Expression.

Course syllabus 2016/17. For more information on the course, please contact Darren Dokis.

FNS 2901E: First Nations in Canadian History

First Nations peoples are the original inhabitants of Canada. This course will examine history recorded since European contact with all possible efforts to privilege an Aboriginal point of view and the contribution Aboriginal peoples have made and continue to make to Canada as a nation-state and as a cultural community.

Course syllabus 2016/17. For more information, please contact Evan Habkirk.

First Nations Studies 2000 Level Electives

FNS 2255G: Indigenous Arts

A study of Indigenous arts of North America, this course explores Indigenous creativity through the examination of historic and contemporary art of Indigenous artists.

For more information on the course, please contact Mr. David Kanatawakhon-Maracle

FNS 2601G: Indigenous Environments

Environmental issues and concerns among Indigenous peoples across North America are the focus of this course. Emphasis is on how the colonial and industrial society's progress often comes at the expense of Indigenous health, livelihood and habitat. The course will explore colonial and industrial encroachment onto Indigenous territories, the effects of pollution and environmental degradation on health and wildlife as well as social, cultural, economic and political self-determination and revitalization.

Course Syllabus 2016/17. For more information, please contact Dr Chantelle Richmond

First Nations Studies 3000 Level Core Courses

FNS 3140F: Indigenous Knowledge & Traditions - Required for Graduation

Indigenous knowledge, as a distinctive field of study, is emerging as an important tool in the movement toward self determination and empowerment. This course will examine Indigenous beliefs, ways of knowing, and worldviews to understand their differences and similarities, while exploring contemporary expressions through a variety of sources and interpretations.

For more information on the course, please contact Mr. David Kanatawakhon-Maracle

FNS 3722F: First Nations Political & Legal Issues - Required for Graduation

**REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: Manuel, Arthur and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson 2015. Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call. Toronto: Between The Lines.**

Political and legal issues are at the core of the colonial relationship between First Nations peoples and the Canadian nation-state. Central to these issues are sovereignty and self-determination. Self-determination is crucial to the survival, regeneration and revitalization of Indigenous peoples. The course will explore the legal and political issues First Nations face through the matrix of issues, debates, discourses, histories, theories, practices and strategies that surround the relationship between indigenous self-determination and the Canadian settler-state.

In addition to gaining a critical understanding of political and legal issues, the student will also acquire skills in group work and collective participation, critical thinking and writing.

Course syllabus 2016. If you would like more information, please contact Mr. Baker.

First Nations Studies 3000 Level Electives

FNS 3001F: Special Topics in First Nations Studies: Indigenous Feminism

This course will offer students the opportunity to examine the iealogy of Indigenous Feminism as it relates to historical and contemporary Haudenosaunee culture.  Through discussion, stories, excerpted documents and requried readings, the concept will be reviewed in realation the the Great Law tenets of Peace, Power and Righteousness. The broad knowledge provided will assist participants to critically engage traditional idealogy in the contemporary world, acquaint themselves with traditional Haudenosaunee pedagogy practises and be able to articulate a brief history of feminism in North America.

This is an alternate-year course and a course description will be available when the course is listed.

FNS 3001G: Special Topics in First Nations Studies: First Nations Music

This course is an excellent opportunity to experience the Music of First Nations Peoples.  Students will learn basic Haudenosaunee music ideolgy and apply this basic knowledge via practical singing experience while examining the philosophical disposition of aboriginal music.  Students will acquire practical experience and in-depth knowledge of Haudenosaunee traditional music by examining the genre of social dance music.  One would gain an understading of the importance and place of music within First Nations' lives.  In this course, students will learn required songs, gain an understanding of the importance of these songs and music within First Nations culture.

Course Syllabus 2106/17.

FNS 3011F/G: Readings in First Nations Studies

Individual reading and research of current interest in First Nations topics. Students must make arrangements with a Professor in the First Nations Studies program. An application must be completed with approval from the Instructor and the Director. For Application Form, please contact the First Nations Studies program office.

FNS 3880G: First Nations Literatures

The course may include a variety of genres, including oral traditions, narrative, poetry, drama, and film.

For course syllabus, please click HERE. For more information, please contact Dr Pauline Wakeham

First Nations Studies 4000 Level Electives

FNS 4011F/G: Supervised Readings/Research in First Nations

Individual reading and research of current interest in First Nations topics. Student must make arrangements with a Professor in the First Nations Studies program. An application must be completed with approval from the Instructor and the Director. Applications are available in the First Nations Studies office.

FNS 4022E: Field School in First Nations Studies

This is an advanced seminar course that combines in-class discussions of theoretical texts and research papers with community based research. Students will train in methodologies and ethics of working with First Nations communities. Areas of research may include but are not limited to land claims, self-government, education, health and wellness and urban issues. Applications are available in the First Nations Studies office.

FNS 4023F: Field Course in First Nations Studies

In this field course students will spend most of their time on Walpole Island. They will be introduced to the historic and contemporary realities experienced by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples on Walpole and the neighbouring community of Chatham-Kent. This course immerses students in historical ecology, restoration, invasive species, and planning in Indigenous contexts. Students will use community-based methods to explore Anishinaabeg and non-Indigenous ecological restoration efforts while simultaneously assisting in community-based projects aimed at environmental and cultural restoration, including the removal of black locust and other invasive plant species.