Greg Meconse is spending his summer delving into The University of Winnipeg Library’s e-books, looking to identify and describe Indigenous language and linguistic content.
A student in the Department of Kinesiology and Applied Health, Meconse says he’s enjoyed branching outside his comfort zone while taking part in the Indigenous Summer Scholars Program (ISSP) with Michael Dudley, who is the Community Outreach Librarian.
“The project is seeking to pick out Indigenous languages from books that would not otherwise be found,” explained Meconse, who is from Pinaymootang First Nation. “Even if it’s just one or two pages and the book has nothing to do with Indigenous language, we’re able to pick out that language and future students, researchers, and professors will be able to use that.”
Dudley says Meconse is identifying content such as glossaries, vocabularies, pronunciation guides, syllabics, pictographs, and much more.
“The library’s metadata librarian and her staff can then take the information Greg gathers to augment our library catalogue entries to make finding this content easier,” he explained. “It’s been a challenge for all of us to adapt the ISSP to a COVID-19 environment, but Greg has done a great job so far in working remotely, and I’ve enjoyed our Zoom meetings.”
This is now the third year the UWinnipeg Library has been involved in the ISSP. Dudley says thanks to the program, “we already have much better knowledge regarding the presence of Indigenous languages in our collections.”
But more than anything, the program is about the students. In 2018, Dudley worked with April Blackbird as part of the ISSP and now they have co-authored a chapter in a forthcoming book on librarianship from the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Now halfway through his time with the program, Meconse says he’s learned more about research than he ever could have imagined.
“I’ve learned to become a better researcher,” he said. “I feel like I’ve always just ‘done’ school and went with the flow, but now I feel like I get it a lot more after just one month of focusing on research.”
But most importantly for Meconse, ISSP provides Indigenous students a chance to see if graduate studies is the right path for them following their undergraduate studies.
“I’m extremely grateful for this program. I think it’s great UWinnipeg offers it, especially considering the large Indigenous student population,” he said. “This program is a stepping stone, especially if we would like to continue to graduate studies and further schooling.”
“I haven’t done research yet about going into graduate studies, but I know this program will help me.”
Hosted by UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Indigenous Summer Scholars Program strengthens the pathways for Indigenous students to move into advanced study and, ultimately, into leadership roles in various sectors. Scholars are paired with faculty members, many of whom are involved in Indigenous research.
The summer scholars receive training stipends to participate in the program, which consists of a series of workshops and discussions exploring a variety of research skills, in addition to the opportunity to practice and hone those skills in a specific research project.