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‘Doing, knowing and being’

Indigenous Student Exchange Agreement fosters collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship

Part of a special feature chronicling the transformation of the academy through the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge, voices, critiques, scholars, students and materials at Memorial.


By Jennifer Batten

The first participant in the Indigenous Student Exchange Agreement came to Memorial this past fall from half a world away.

The opportunity for Barlow Anderson to come to Newfoundland and Labrador from New Zealand is due to a recently signed Indigenous Student Exchange Agreement established between Memorial University and the University of Otago.

Cultural exchange

The purpose of the agreement, which is facilitated and managed by Memorial’s Internationalization Office, is to further mutual understanding between the University of Otago and Memorial University to enhance each institutions teaching and learning, and internationalization objectives for Indigenous students.

Its intent is to establish a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship between the two institutions, through the exchange of information and materials, but most importantly, people.

Mr. Anderson had just completed a bachelor of commerce degree with a major in marketing management and a bachelor of arts with a major in Indigenous development back home when he signed up for the exchange. He says he knew very little about Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I’m from a place called Hamilton in Aotearoa, New Zealand,” he said. “I’m of Māori descent and come from the Ngāti Rongomai, Waikato, Whakatohea, Ngāti Manawa, Tūhoe and Ngāti Porou tribes.

Barlow Anderson in Sheshatshiu, Labrador.
Photo: Submitted

“The cultural experience trip to Sheshatshiu was definitely the highlight of my trip to Newfoundland and Labrador,” he continued. “I was fortunate enough to spend five days with Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue, constructing tents, making food I have never had before, hunting, snowshoeing, exploring.”

As well, he says he was able to participate in drumming circles and Friday get-togethers hosted by the Aboriginal Resource Office (ARO) on the St. John’s campus, where they would meet and share stories with the Indigenous community.

Also during his semester at Memorial, Mr. Anderson took folklore and religion courses and gained knowledge of the local culture through trips to The Rooms and historical sites, including Signal Hill, Cape Spear and downtown St. John’s.

“Memorial te whakatinanatanga o te manaakitanga – Memorial the embodiment of hospitality!” — Barlow Anderson

The Internationalization Office played a key role in working with international partner organizations and students for the exchange as well as others, and in the case of this particular agreement, has collaborated directly with colleagues in the ARO.

‘Incredibly enriching’

As the higher education landscape becomes more global, and sharing knowledge becomes easier, these kinds of student exchanges have become increasingly important to fostering the student experience and helping students broaden their horizons.

“Bringing students from other parts of the world to Memorial to share ideas, learn new ways of doing and understanding, is incredibly enriching for all,” said Valeri Pilgrim, currently the manager of the Aboriginal Resource Office, but who worked as an international student advisor with the Internationalization Office and acted as the liaison during Mr. Anderson’s exchange.

“Barlow not only shared information about his Indigenous culture, but also demonstrated his ways of doing, knowing and being with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Ms. Pilgrim also says her office is excited to see where the exchange program goes from here and looks forward to sending Memorial University students to the University of Otago.

Barlow Anderson Labrador Memorial University
Barlow Anderson in Sheshatshiu on Labrador’s North Coast.
Photo: Submitted

Prior to his departure for home in mid-December, Mr. Anderson spoke highly of the people and places he experienced during his first trip to Canada and said he encourages all students to consider exchanges for new cultural and social experiences.

“The Indigenous Student Exchange program is a great way to explore and interact with the Indigenous culture and communities of other places. The main highlight of my trip was getting to know many fun, generous and hospitable people. Memorial te whakatinanatanga o te manaakitanga – Memorial the embodiment of hospitality!”

Mr. Anderson will soon start a master’s in international relations program at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

For more information on student exchange opportunities at Memorial, visit online.


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