Christine Jamieson Will Lead the Course Open to All Students
GRAPHIC PAULINA DOMÍNGUEZ.
After a few years of only being offered occasionally, the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia decided to make a course on indigenous spirituality available full-time.
Starting in the Fall 2018 semester, Indigenous Spirituality (THEO 243) will be offered regularly as an elective for all students, as well as a mandatory course for the department’s certificate in Christian Spirituality.
For Christine Jamieson, associate professor in the department, the development and teaching of the course is more than just an academic pursuit—it’s a personal one.
Growing up in a military family that constantly moved around Canada, Jamieson’s roots with the Boothroyd First Nation in British Columbia remained unexplored because of abusive treatment her father experienced as an indigenous person.
“My father was someone who had a very deep sense of unworthiness that I know came out of the abuse he suffered,” said Jamieson. “He, in some ways, tried to escape that by ignoring that part of himself.”
Over the past decade, Jamieson has taken the time to reexamine that undiscovered aspect of her heritage.
Jamieson returned to British Columbia, connected with her ancestry and took part in workshops that provided her with a background in indigenous teaching methods. She is also in the process of working on an Indigenous Educators’ Certificate in Indigegogy from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. Now, she’s importing her knowledge and cultural understanding into the lecture halls of Concordia University.
“I recognized that was an important thing I needed to explore myself in order to be able to feel I could offer this course. That was very much a part of my own research,” said Jamieson. “This course comes out of that experience.”
EXPLORING INDIGENOUS SPIRITUALITY
Jamieson designed the course to explore aspects of spirituality in an indigenous context through methods not commonly used in current academic settings.
She hopes to teach students the meaning of indigenous spirituality, as well as allow them to experience it and understand as not simply a belief system, but as something more tangible.
“It’s not an intellectually abstract thing, it’s actually very concrete. It’s grounded in the experience of being in the land, and the experience of the people as a community,” said Jamieson.
An indigenous approach to knowledge sharing and understanding differs greatly from traditionally “academic” methodologies. Often, they will supplant objectivity in favour of embracing the connection they have to the subject they’re studying.
“They are not standing apart from their research, but they are engaged in it. It is about being in a relationship with others,” said Jamieson. “It’s a profoundly different type of research, and more and more it’s becoming respected in the academic world.”
Jamieson also notes the course won’t shy away from the history of abuse indigenous people faced in Canada. In particular, the course will examine the role Catholic churches had in running the residential school system. In a calculated effort to get rid of indigenous culture in Canada, the residential school system removed children from their families, exposed them to physical and sexual abuse, and forced children to study in English or French.“Many indigenous people see it as an imposition, and I do emphasize that oppression in the course,” said Jamieson. “But at the same time I do look at that encounter between indigenous and Christian spirituality.”Jamieson studies the overlap between indigenous spirituality and Christianity. According to her, there are many indigenous people who have embraced Christianity, which is an important dynamic to address despite its controversial nature. “It’s not an intellectually abstract thing, it’s actually very concrete. It’s grounded in the experience of being […]
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