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Indigenous Matters

The Indigenous Studies Program, through Student Resources and the Indigenous Studies Office, has been building community relationships since its inception in 1992. Indigenous instructors, many from the local area, give all McMaster students access to a more multi-faceted education.

Photo of various Indigenous Peoples dancers and performers dressed in Indigenous Regalia during the 2018 Indigenous Cultural Gathering held on the McMaster 10 Acre Field

Photo: 5th annual Cultural Gathering. This event, organized by the McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance – MISCA, educates students on Indigenous life.

For a sample of the library's collection that honours the history, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada -- and recognizes the strength of present-day Indigenous communities, visit the McMaster Library's National Indigenous History Month - Online Display.

Santee Smith, internationally recognized artist, dancer and choreographer, is McMaster's current chancellor. Chancellor Smith is from the Kahnyen’kehàka (Mohawk) Nation, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River. McMaster’s chancellor is the honorary head of the university, presiding over all convocations, and participating in a wide range of activities and events. It is McMaster’s tradition to choose as chancellor alumni who have made significant contributions to society. Chancellor Smith is a two-time McMaster graduate, holding degrees in physical education and psychology, along with a Master of Arts in dance from York University. McMaster Chancellor Santee Smith and Kaha:wi Dance Theatre have won five Dora Mavor Moore Awards for their production The Mush Hole.

Photo from the Convocation Fall 2019 Ceremony, Installation of Chancellor-elect Santee Smith. Trimmed with gold braid taken from the previous robe, the chancellor’s regalia now incorporates a yoke, cuffs and Glengarry hat with traditional beading created by designer Elaine Redding and seamstress Naomi Smith.


photo of Vanessa WattsVanessa Watts, a Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe scholar and faculty member in McMaster’s Department of Sociology and Indigenous Studies program, is the new Paul R. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies. As chair, she will lead efforts to advance Indigenous research and education. By amplifying Indigenous voices in academia, she will also build on the significant work of her Indigenous colleagues to advance McMaster’s Indigenous Studies program.

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