Indigineering


The intersections of sustainability

Sustainability is something that most, if not all engineers, are concerned with. Economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, and social sustainability are concepts taught in the early years of engineering. My Sustainable Design course was fortunate enough to have guest lecturer Deanna Burgart, P.Eng, CET in our lecture. Deanna Burgart is a self proclaimed 'indigeneer', an engineer who works to ensure that STEM focused organizations are moving forward in Indigenous inclusion and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. She works to indigenize curriculum in various academic environments, and is the president of Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Inc. and co-founder of IndigeSTEAM (a non-profit youth initiative that connects Indigenous professionals, post-secondary students, and youth with the aim of mentorship and collaboration)


Engineering is, historically, a very monocultural profession. In North America, it is only recently that engineering has begun to attract women, gender diverse individuals, indigenous individuals, and those other than the stereotypical upper-class men that have long since made up the profession. She brings to her speeches seven sacred Anishnabek teachings: love, respect, courage, honest, wisdom, humility, and truth. By bringing attention to the barriers faced by indigenous people in Canada, including the difficulties of 'off-the-grid' communities, the education barriers faced by indigenous youth, and the lack of education throughout Canada when it comes to the cultures and ways of Indigenous nations and peoples.


From how Western architecture reflects Western hierarchies, to the dichotomy between the Seven Generations values and quarterly profits, Deanna explores the ways that engineering and all STEM fields can benefit from indigenous consultation, reconciliation, and inclusion. She defines indigenization of engineering to be "enhancing the engineering profession to meaningfully include Indigenous peoples, through partnerships, increasing Indigenous representation in engineering, and incorporating Indigenous knowledge". She also defines decolonization to be "[the] deconstruction of the systems and structures that are Western or Eurocentric and constructing a blend of systems that are less hierarchal, less individually focused, and more circular, collaborative, and interconnected".


More information on Indigeneering and Deanna Burgart can be found at Indigeneering.com, where you can read more about her history, her work, and sign up for her newsletter.


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