Overcoming a Culture of Whiteness: Remaking Queen’s University as a First Nations Thirdspace
Grady-Smith, Claire G.
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This thesis addresses the perennial difficulties faced by Queen’s University’s administration in its failings to recognize the importance of an adequate contemporary First Nations presence within any twenty-first century Canadian institution of higher learning. Paying attention to the requests and demands of the immediate First Nations campus and community population over the last twenty years, I re-visit university attempts to manage issues of ‘equity’ and ‘diversity’ through non-organic solutions. Using Edward Soja’s theory of Thirdspace, and his concept of a ‘trialectics of space’ I analyze a range of historical and contemporary cultural practices that include macro and micro governance and policy issues. I review the how the space of Queen’s is perceived; I follow how space is conceived in recommendations and requests made to Queen’s administration by First Nations university and community members; and finally I write about how transformations of lived space can bring about institutional change. By pairing feminist and Indigenous methodologies, I suggest that until the Thirdspace is recognized as part of an important cycle of educational and cultural change, the University space will remain inaccessible for many First Nations students, staff and faculty. I also include a background of legislation in Canada; the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Indian Act of 1876, and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988. These legal documents each served to define, restrict or contain the space in which First Nations live and work, and they need to be included as further background to what Toby Miller refers to as the structural limits of legislating difference in cultural-capitalist nation-state spaces.