Indigenous Learning Circle

Indigenous Education at Niagara College & the Centre for Academic Excellence invite faculty, academic leaders, and staff to participate in an inaugural Indigenous Learning Circle (ILC). The Circle will provide a venue for NC educators to engage with Indigenous perspectives and critically reflect on their role at Niagara College.

Supported by our two Centres, this Indigenous Learning Circle will be chaired by White Northern Lights Woman, Aniishnaabe, Mi’Kmaq, Metis, Elder, Elaine Berwald. We invite 15 educators to meet monthly to explore, through readings as well as through conversation, the issues shaping the experience of Indigenous students at Niagara College. Between each Learning Circle meeting, educators may be asked to apply suggestions to their own work environments, critically reflect on that experience, and share at the next session.

Meetings of the ILC

The Indigenous Learning Circle will run from January until April.  A two-hour meeting of the Circle is scheduled each month at the Welland campus.

  • Wednesday, January 31 from 1:30 – 3:30 in SA208                                  
  • Wednesday, February 21 from 1:30 – 3:30 in SA208                                
  • Wednesday, March 21 from 1:30 – 3:30 in SA208                                      
  • Wednesday, April 18 from 1:30 – 3:30 in SA208                                           

Facilitator Biography

The Centre for Academic Excellence is honoured and excited to welcome facilitator, White Northern Lights Woman, Aniishnaabe, Mi’Kmaq, Metis, Elder, Elaine Berwald to facilitate this inaugural Indigenous Learning Circle.

Elaine has been studying Indigenous Teachings for over 25 years as she re-claims her Indigenous heritage. Her past training and employment includes work in medical office management and human resources, which has helped to shape her current passions and work as an Indigenous Cultural Liaison, Knowledge Keeper, Grandmother/ Elder, Indigenous child welfare consultant, and allowed her to incorporate and use two-eyed seeing in her continued work as an advocate, public speaker, and facilitator on several important topics regarding Indigenous culture. Elaine’s teachings maintain and place focus on a global Indigenous perspective.

Elaine is beyond excited to be a part of this Circle. She acknowledges and respects her great responsibility to the people who will be attending the Circle, as well as, the participants that will follow and the ripple effect this initiative will have at Niagara College. Elaine’s focus is to create a safe space, to open dialogue, and to allow for the sharing of experiences all while accurately representing the Indigenous student voice on campus.

Elaine is a mother of five and a grandmother to eleven grandchildren. Elaine’s traditional lands are Eel River Bar, Northern New Brunswick and the Selkirk Establishment, Red River, Manitoba, and she makes her home in Niagara, Ontario.

Intended Audience

This professional learning opportunity is intended for NC campus community members who contribute to student learning and the student experience at our college. This group may include but is not limited to: part-time and full-time faculty members, student services staff, administrators, etc. At registration, participants will be asked to complete a short background survey designed to gather their interests and allow facilitators to learn more about what participants wish to accomplish in their work environments.

Participant Expectations

The maximum number of participants is set at 15 to ensure a sense of community and safety in the recurring discussions. Participants are asked to commit to attending all four 2-hour sessions throughout the winter semester. Participants may be asked to undertake some modest reviews of resources or readings before each scheduled meeting. After reviewing readings, participants may be asked to come to a session to discuss the reading and leave with actions and strategies to be applied in their classroom or work environment in the weeks between sessions. At the next session, participants may be asked to share their experience of implementing new actions and/or strategies and report back to the group on what they learned.


Due to the sensitive nature of the topics explored in this initiative, we ask that you fully read the information above and are prepared to fully commit to all four circle meeting to ensure a safe and strong sense of community for all circle members. Please .