Section 2: Who are Indigenous Students?


Sharing the 4Rs as key principles in the Indigenous wholistic framework shows the heart of Indigenous education in that it connects the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual realms of a student to their families, their campus community, their Indigenous communities, and beyond. Awareness of student diversity is decolonizing and debunks popular misconceptions and stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples. This awareness helps lessen the potential for microaggressions, thus creating a culturally safe environment for student success. The following activities are self-reflective and let you compare current ethical practices to Indigenizing your practice.


Activity 1: Building a wholistic practice

Type: Individual

Time: 1 hour

Looking at the Indigenous wholistic framework and the guiding principles, reflect on the following questions:

  • How can you use the 4 Rs (respect, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility) to better serve and honour the culture of Indigenous students?
  • How do you see the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs of Indigenous students and communities being helped (or hindered) at your institution?
  • What areas of growth and development can you identify for yourself?
  • What ways can you further your professional development? (Who can you turn to for support?
  • What resources do you need? What books, workshops, online guides, or communities of practice can help you to gain this knowledge?)
  • What aspect of the whole student to do you engage in your practice? How could you engage with the other aspects?

Activity 2: Dispelling stereotypes and addressing microaggressive behaviours

Type: Individual

Time: 1 hour

Watch the two-minute video Wab Kinew Top 5 Stereotypes toward Indigenous Peoples in Canada[1]



  • What are three new ideas about Indigenous student experiences that you have gained from reading the resources and watching the videos?
  • What else do you need to know?
  • How will you go about to seek answers to these questions?

Activity 3: Working in a culture of support

Type: Group

Time: 1 hour

  • Discuss how you would create a culture of support where you can challenge assumptions and biases in the work of your unit.
  • Build examples of promising practices at your institution that can help your unit further serve Indigenous students. Consider campus environments, spaces, and cultures; policies; programs; websites; curricula; pedagogies; academic programs; and student services.
  • Read the ACPA Ethical Principles and Standards [PDF][4] and create an ethical code of conduct for working with Indigenous students in your unit or program.
  • Once your team or unit has developed some ideas on how it can create a culture of support, develop a strategy for sharing reflections on how well you are living up to this ideal, both individually and as a group. Discuss ways you can hold each other accountable for meeting this goal.

  1. Wab Kinew Top 5 Stereotypes toward Indigenous Peoples in Canada video:
  2. "Debunking the myth that all First Nations people receive free post-secondary education
  3. "I Thought You’d Call Her White Feather”: Native Women and Racial Microaggressions in Doctoral Education:
  4. ACPA Ethical Principles and Standards:


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Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors Copyright © 2018 by Ian Cull; Robert L. A. Hancock; Stephanie McKeown; Michelle Pidgeon; and Adrienne Vedan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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