Since 2019, the FRQ have been providing financial support for UNESCO Chairs under a joint Declaration of Intent signed with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO). Here is a portrait of one of these Chairs, whose work is generating positive impacts for society.

Chaire UNESCO en transmission culturelle chez les Premiers Peuples comme dynamique de mieux-être et d’empowerment

Chairholder: Mathieu Cook, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

The UNESCO Chair in the Transmission of First Peoples’ Culture to Foster Well-Being and Empowerment was originally awarded to Wendat professor Elisabeth Kaine, who passed away in 2022. This pioneer of decolonization worked extensively with Indigenous communities and the Chair is largely inspired by her approach.

Mathieu Cook now holds this chair at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, the first in the network of UNESCO Chairs to have Indigenous governance. The Chair is supported by an Elders Committee made up of First Peoples men and women. The Scientific and Management committees also include members of Indigenous origin.

The Chair works with Indigenous communities to promote and participate in an integrated system of research, training, knowledge transfer and documentation in the fields of education, wellness and culture among First Nations and Inuit.

The Concerted Action on the Cultural Safety Approach North of the 49th Parallel is a good example. It aims to find concrete ways of building ties between Indigenous culture and educational practices. This kind of cultural safety is vital to fostering school retention and educational success among Indigenous students.

Christine Couture, Innu teacher Julie Rock and Jean-François Vachon from Boîte Rouge Vif toured educational facilities on the Côte-Nord, from daycare centres to the university. The team documented 44 examples of cultural safety practices, such as poem-writing and allowing students to explain elements of the lesson in Innu to other students to facilitate understanding. Such practices recognize the value of First Peoples’ languages and stories, build on collective approaches and combat prejudice.

These transferable practices can be adapted in other educational institutions throughout Québec to promote cultural safety and, consequently, the success of Indigenous students.

For more information

Concerted action on cultural safety  (in French)