New Indigenous Studies Instructors Arrive for KPU’s Summer Semester

Jules Koostachin and Kerrie Charnley will teach Introduction to Indigenous Studies

Jules Arita Koostachin, one of two new Indigenous Studies instructors at KPU. (submitted/ photo taken by Karolina Turek)

Note: Since the publishing of this article, Dr. Kerrie Charnley took a full-time position at another university and will not be teaching at KPU this semester.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has welcomed two new instructors for the summer semester, Dr. Kerrie Charnley and Jules Koostachin, to teach INDG 1100, Introduction to Indigenous Studies. Both have expertise in teaching on a range of Indigenous topics, which they will be bringing to KPU for the first time.

Koostachin is an award-winning Cree filmmaker who specializes in Indigenous documentary and owns the company VisJuelles Productions Inc. As such, she likes to use media and film in her classes, and to approach material using diverse methods in recognition of different styles of learning. For this course, Koostachin would like to focus on the present day and future and the relationships that can be built moving forward.

“In order to do that, we need to kind of focus on what has already occurred and correct some of those wrongs that are in some of those old history books and stuff, so I’m hoping students will walk away with a more critical understanding of Indigenous realities,” she says.

In class, she plans to “talk about different artists today that are speaking to Indigenous issues, just so that [students] know what’s out there and become more informed.” She’s also planning to get a “realistic view of what people actually know about what happens in this country” so that she can help them fill the gaps in their knowledge.

Koostachin is a band member of the Attawapiskat First Nation and has taught in both Ontario and Vancouver. This includes work at the University of Sudbury, Laurentian University, George Brown College, Capilano University, and the University of British Columbia.

This is not only her first semester at KPU, but also her first time teaching an online course because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she enjoys getting to know her students through face-to-face interaction, she hopes they can still connect through the internet.

Charnley is from the Katzie Nation and has worked as a paralegal and a journalist. She has taught courses pertaining to a broad range of Indigenous matters such as health, literature, and pedagogy at Simon Fraser University, UBC, and the Institute for Indigenous Governance. She received her Ph.D from UBC with a dissertation on Katzie people’s intergenerational connection between their land, stories, and education  and some of her articles and essays have been used as required reading for First Nations and Womens’ Studies courses at various Vancouver universities.

The Indigenous Community Justice program, which began in 2017, had been in preparation since 2013 thanks to the hard work of Lisa Monchalin. Monchalin is a KPU Criminology instructor of Metis, Algonquin, Huron, and Scottish descent. Indigenous Community Justice is an interdisciplinary minor, including courses primarily in the fields of anthropology and sociology and secondarily in history, linguistics, and criminology.

The program is part of an area of study based on the acknowledgement that we live on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded lands of many Indigenous Nations while operating in the societal structure of a colonialist nation called Canada.

Introduction to Indigenous Studies is not only part of the Indigenous Community Justice minor, but also a mandatory course for several other programs such as KPU’s Bachelor of Journalism.

Both Koostachin and Charnley will bring a vast range of experience and knowledge to KPU this summer, and students can trust that they will learn a great deal despite the barriers posed during this global pandemic.