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She:kon, Sge:no, Aanii, Welcome

Indigenous studies focuses on the intellectual and cultural traditions of Indigenous Peoples in the areas of history, language, medicine, health and wellness, creative arts, literature, economy, activism, community and political dynamics, peacebuilding, spirituality and traditional ecological knowledge.

We have established an interdisciplinary approach in courses to share the varied expertise of our instructors.

Students examine a wide range of topics including history, health, literature, land claims, environment and self-determination.

Since its inception in 1992, the Indigenous Studies Program (ISP) at McMaster has taken a very unique and inclusive approach to teaching Indigenous knowledge. Our programs honour the knowledge found in academics, but also within Indigenous communities. This is why our instructors range from Elders to Indigenous academics. This community-driven approach encourages students from various cultural backgrounds to learn about the history and lives of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples from an Indigenous perspective.

Indigenous Studies Degree Options

All Social Sciences students start off in Level I. At the end of first-year, students who meet the requirements outlined below can pursue one of the following degree options in Indigenous Studies:

  • Honours B.A.
    Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least 5.0 (C) in INDIG ST 1A03, 1AA3 or RECONCIL 1A03.

  • Combined Honours B.A. in Indigenous Studies & Another Subject
    Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least 5.0 (C) in INDIG ST 1A03, 1AA3 or RECONCIL 1A03. Satisfaction of admission requirements for the Honours program in the other B.A. subject.

  • B.A. in Indigenous Studies & Another Subject
    Grade Point Average of at least 3.5 and a grade of 4.0(C-) in three units of INDIGST 1A03, 1AA3 or RECONCIL 1A03 and satisfaction of admission requirements for the B.A. program in the other subject.


The Indigenous Studies Program also offers the following minor, which can be taken alongside another degree program:

  • Minor in Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies Program Details

photo of Hannah Martin

Hannah Martin

Honours Indigenous Studies BA, McMaster University2019

“I love my program because it integrates Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being into a degree. It respects these Indigenous worldviews as ways of knowing that need to be supported and encouraged in order for us to flourish as individuals, scholars and community members. One day I could be working on my thesis in the library and the next I am sitting in the woods to observe nature for an experiential learning course.”

Focus of Study

Our Indigenous Studies Program brings the richness and depth of Indigenous knowledge and cultures to the classroom. The program is designed for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. It allows students to explore the intellectual traditions of many Indigenous peoples, with an emphasis on the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe of southern Ontario. Students will increase their understanding, awareness and respect for Indigenous knowledge, spirituality, and social/political experience.

Students will not only expand their awareness and understanding of Indigenous cultures through interdisciplinary research and study, but they will also engage with innovative approaches to learning and scholarship through experiential educational opportunities as a means to develop professional skills to work with Indigenous communities, both on reserve and off.

Indigenous Spaces

The Indigenous Studies program and student support services are housed in the newly built L.R. Wilson Hall, McMaster’s home for the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Nearly 20,000 square-feet of space has been dedicated to the university Indigenous Studies Program and Indigenous students across campus. The Indigenous Studies area includes a ceremonial space,  teaching garden, kitchen facilities for instruction in Indigenous cooking, a student library with hundreds of titles in the areas of Indigenous Knowledge, research and language and a student lounge.

Support Services 

  • An Indigenous student counsellor to assist students with social and academic concerns
  • A computer centre and meeting area for students to study, network and socialize
  • Indigenous Education Council to support and address current issues in the community
  • A resource library specific to Indigenous topics
  • Elders and guest lecturers from various Indigenous communities
  • Help with student employment and career opportunities
  • A liaison between local organizations and Six Nations/New Credit territories
  • Access to the Elders-in-Residence Program, to increase awareness of history, traditions and culture

Build Your Skills

Unique Learning Opportunities

  • The program is designed for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
  • We believe in order to deliver the most knowledge-rich courses possible, elders and traditional knowledge carriers from local indigenous communities must be incorporated into both academic programming and service delivery for students.
  • Students have the opportunity to experience such workshops as:
    • Planting and gardening
    • Canoeing through water systems located near the campus
    • Medicine walks that explore Indigenous plants of the area and their usages
  • Students have the opportunity to connect with visiting First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples at events such as the Elders Gathering, and the Indigenous Women’s Symposium.
  • We support all First Nation, Metis and Inuit students as they strive to realize their educational goals.
  • Indigenous Services provides a number of supports, including an Indigenous Student Counselor, a Recruitment and Retention Officer, a Program Manager, a student lounge, computer lab and resource library.

The broad aims of the program

  • Utilize and draw from the theoretical foundations of Indigenous Studies within the University and beyond, including: Indigenous forms of governance, problem-solving, approaches to wellness, conflict resolution, and sustainable relationships to the natural world.
  • Critically read, think, research and write.
  • Understand and articulate the historical narratives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples from an Indigenous perspective.
  • Integrate Western theories with Indigenous approaches to knowledge and articulate how and why the systems merge, overlap and dissect.
  • Identify research initiatives and develop educational resources with, and for, First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities.
  • Develop meaningful and innovative ways to enhance Indigenous knowledge within the University, the community and in a variety of settings to ensure its continued survival in the future.

Our graduates have been successful at finding interesting and rewarding careers in a range of fields in both the public and private sectors

Examples of career paths include:

  • Education/Outreach
  • Law
  • Advocacy/Social Services
  • Policy/Governance
  • Business
  • Community Development
  • Medicine/Health Care
  • Graduate studies
  • International Development/Affairs
  • Communications
  • Humanitarian Efforts
  • Administration/Management

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