The Role of Relationships in Indigenous Community-engaged Learning

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Erica de Souza
Shantel Watson


Service Learning is the pursuit of education while serving the interests of the community, and undertaking a direct role in social change (Phillips, 2013). It allows students a chance to develop research skills while simultaneously building bonds with colleagues and creating relationships within communities. We are two undergraduate students, from a collaborative group of five, who undertook a month-long summer Scholars in Residence (SiR) program at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Our involvement with the SiR project, “Community-engaged Learning with the Indigenous Action Group (IAG)” immersed us in a grassroots effort to research the impacts of a community-engaged learning course at the student level. The goal of the course, “Anthropology and Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island” (ANT241H) is to initiate and maintain an Indigenous curriculum in a university setting. Self-reflection is pivotal in our research skill development, and our understanding of the impact of the project in its initial stages. Qualitative analysis of student assignments demonstrated the importance of creating relationships with Indigenous Scholars to advance Indigenous Pedagogy and provide students with the tools needed to build relationships with the local Indigenous community. Our own relationships with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) was limited to remote learning by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Despite the hindrances to our relationship building, the SiR experience transcended our interpersonal needs as allies, and laid the foundation for a stronger bond as we progress in the longitudinal study.

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How to Cite
de Souza, E., & Watson, S. (2020). The Role of Relationships in Indigenous Community-engaged Learning. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research , 10, 15-22. Retrieved from
Reflective Essays
Author Biography

Shantel Watson, University of Toronto

Undergraduate Candidate, International Relations 2022 University of Toronto.