ARST 585 (3) Information Practice and Protocol in Support of Indigenous Initiatives [cross-listed with LIBR 564]


MLIS students should enroll in LIBR 564

MAS and Dual students: Completion of the “Term 1” MAS Core courses

GOAL: This course prepares students to work effectively with Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations in support of ongoing developments in Indigenous culture and languages, self-governance, treaty negotiation and litigation. Processes of information creation, sharing, storage, access and use within the information professions can support and/or negate these initiatives. Students will engage the knowledge traditions, histories, government policies, and litigation that influence contemporary information practice and protocols that in turn shape interactions between Indigenous peoples and dominant information systems. Students will develop an appreciation for the range of Indigenous and settler perspectives on information-related topics including: intellectual property; repatriation; knowledge; knowledge organization; orality; and the digitization of cultural heritage. At the end of the course, students will be positioned to undertake experiential learning opportunities within Indigenous-oriented information organizations, including but not limited to libraries, archives and cultural centres.

Please note: Students are welcomed from widely varied backgrounds. Some students are of Indigenous heritage, well aware of contemporary Indigenous issues and interests and the ongoing influence of colonization. Other students are unfamiliar with Indigenous perspectives and alternate histories of colonization. Many students fall somewhere between the two extremes. Students are expected to reflect on these differences while engaging with course materials and interacting with their colleagues.


Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Illustrate the historical role of the information professions in Indigenous | Settler relationships [1.4]*
  • Effectively articulate the information-related challenges and opportunities that face Indigenous peoples making decisions regarding the resilience of their cultural heritage [2.1, 2.2, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2]*
  • Discuss the effects of dominant classification practices on Indigenous-related materials held by cultural institutions [1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 5.3]*
  • Describe the necessity of developing effective and culturally respectful information services for Indigenous communities and Indigenous-oriented organizations [1.1,1.3, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2]*
  • Identify and research strategic responses to ongoing and emerging information issues that impact Indigenous communities and organizations [1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2]*
  • Advocate for developing relationships with Indigenous-oriented organizations and First Nations, Metis and Aboriginal communities with respect for appropriate cultural protocol and your professional ethics [1.1,1.3, 2.1, 5.1, 5.2]*

* Course objectives are stated in terms of student learning outcomes and reference the iSchool Statement on Graduate Competencies.


  • Professional identity (discussing the complexity of Indigenous and settler identities)
  • The role of respectful relationships with Indigenous-oriented organizations and communities
  • Classification tensions for Indigenous materials
  • Legal and political histories related to information management and Indigenous initiatives
  • The role of records in initiatives related to health, land use, genealogy, and litigation within Indigenous-oriented organizations and communities
  • Intellectual property – contemporary challenges for Indigenous communities
  • Technological opportunities and tensions for Indigenous communities
  • Advocacy and access to information for Indigenous communities
  • Indigenous scholars and scholarship within the information professions
  • Tensions between information professional organizations ethical guidelines (e.g., ALA’s statements on censorship) and Indigenous protocols and cultural norms
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