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Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives to be renamed Centre for Indigenous Studies

Change to take effect in July pending Governing Council approval
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First Nations House exterior. IRIS ROBIN/THE VARSITY
First Nations House exterior. IRIS ROBIN/THE VARSITY

In keeping with the growing trend away from using the word ‘aboriginal,’ the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives within the Faculty of Arts & Science will be renamed the Centre for Indigenous Studies, after a unanimous agreement in favour of the name change from faculty, staff, and students.

The centre currently offers undergraduate specialist, major, and minor programs in Aboriginal Studies. In July, these programs will be called ‘Indigenous Studies’ pending approval by the Governing Council on June 23.

Other universities that have made the switch to Indigenous Studies from Aboriginal Studies or ‘Native Studies’ include Trent University, McMaster University, Queen’s University, University of Saskatchewan, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and McGill University.

Similarly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renamed the federal ‘Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development’ to the ‘Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ last November. In addition, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced in May that the provincial ‘Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs’ will be renamed the ‘Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation’.

In recent years, numerous Indigenous groups, including the Anishinabek of Ontario and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, have opposed the term aboriginal. According to the word’s detractors, it can be interpreted to mean ‘not original’, with the Latin prefix ‘ab-’ meaning ‘not.’