In the summer of 2017, The Indigenous Women and Youth Resilience Project launched as an initiative to support the University of Alberta’s commitment to reconciliation and address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The project engaged students, Elders, knowledge keepers, and community members to define what resilience means within Indigenous contexts. Through interviews, workshops, a symposium, and consultation with our Indigenous women’s council, with the support of the Faculty of Native Studies, the Resilience Project is shifting to address the needs identified within our research. While Indigenous women make-up only 4% of Canada’s population, they account for 39% of the overall female prison population. In the prairie provinces, Indigenous women make-up an alarming 85% of admissions to adult provincial custody. In Canadian prisons, Indigenous persons are more likely to experience segregation, and they account for 48% of self-injurious incidents. Increasing Indigenous women’s access to creative and supportive classroom spaces is, as we have already seen, a powerful mechanism to support those Indigenous women caught in a system of over-incarceration. Providing access to post-secondary education and collaborative learning with other students, Walls to Bridges classes offer opportunities for to share, discuss, and explore issues as peers. This is a transformational educational experience which draws upon lived experiences as a source of theorizing as well as challenges the artificial boundaries between people experiencing imprisonment and those who are not.
The Walls to Bridges (W2B) program creates educational partnerships between institutions of higher learning and correctional systems. Founded in 2011 by Shoshanna Pollack of Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener, Ontario, this powerful program provides opportunities for transformational and integrative learning between non campus-based students (incarcerated) and campus-based students (non-incarcerated), encourages a paradigm shift in education and social relationships and as such, serves as an important locus of and engine for social change. This program brings together college or university students (campus-based students) with incarcerated men and women (non campus-based students) to study as peers in semester-long college/university level courses. Not only does W2B dismantle educational barriers, but by creating a community of learners from both the prison and the outside community, walls are transcended and inclusive knowledge networks are created. Non campus-based students and campus-based students attend weekly classes together within the prison setting in which all students read a variety of texts and write papers. In the final month of class, students collaborate on a class project, defined in large part by what is meaningful to the student group. Examples of class projects that have been completed are needs assessments, poetry books, zines, anthologies, policy recommendations, community forums, and more!
Registration and Course Information
The Faculty of Native Studies NS280 Indigenous Resilience, Sept-Dec 2019 at the Edmonton Institution for Women. This course is open to any registered UofA student. Download the application here – NS 280 X02 W2B Application
January 2020 The University of Alberta’s Women’s and Gender Studies are also hosting a Walls to Bridges course WGS280 Indigenous Women’s Autobiography and Life Writing. Applications for this course will be available in September 2019.
Poster image used with permission from artist: @chiefladybird
Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!
Please ensure you read the following prior to completing & submitting an application. Note that we’re currently accepting application for NS280 Indigenous Resilience.
This is a Walls To Bridges(W2B) course. That means it takes place inside the Edmonton Institution for Women (EIFW), which is a federal correctional facility. W2B classes involve equal numbers of incarcerated (“non-campus based”) students and university/college-based (“campus based”) students learning together as peers.
● NS 280 X02 Indigenous Resilience is a 3-credit course and oral participation will be more stringent than a fourth-year seminar, and the pedagogy involves a fuller responsibility toward the course’s learning goal than in a traditional classroom.
● Because the course takes place inside a correctional facility, all students must complete all necessary protocol outlined by Correctional Service of Canada. This includes a Personnel Screening, Consent and Authorization Form and fingerprinting. There is no student cost for this process. A completed Personnel Screening Form can be found at the end of the application and must accompany your completed application submission. Please fill in the form with the help of the sample sheet provided. Submit the form with your application.
● Students are responsible for their transportation to and from the Edmonton Institute for Women located at 11151 178th Street.
● Students are required to adhere to all rules and regulations dictated by the Edmonton Institution for Women while in their facility. One example includes the prohibition of cell phones, laptops, and tablets etc.
● Walls to Bridges courses include a large group project.
● The Walls to Bridges program includes guidelines that shape dynamics of privacy and respect inside and out of the classroom. An example includes a commitment from “outside” students to not investigate their classmates’ conviction histories.
● By participating in this course, you consent to a “Walls to Bridges” tag on your student record so we can track the progress of the Walls to Bridges program at the University of Alberta.
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