Dan Levy signs up for free Indigenous history course at U of A, urges others to do the same
EDMONTON -- A free University of Alberta course on Canadian Indigenous history has gotten a boost from Dan Levy of Schitt's Creek fame.
Indigenous Canada is an online course "that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada," created and offered by the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta.
The course, which can be taken for credit by students at the Edmonton university, is also being made free to anyone to audit.
Tracy Bear, the course's instructor, says the MOOC — short for Massive Open Online Course — isn't actually new.
"The result of three years is this MOOC we launched in 2017, and it became one of the most popular MOOCs in Canada, and then North America," she told CTV News Edmonton Tuesday.
The course got a boost amid the Black Lives Matter movement and because of a tweet from Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
Then came the email from Levy.
"I'm like, wow, this is big," said Bear. "We had a great call with him and he's starting the MOOC today."
In a video tweeted to his more than 550,000 followers, the actor called on others to "come learn" with him and posted a link to the course in his Twitter profile.
"I thought, if I'm going to sign up and learn, maybe some other people would want to join me and we could do this as a group," he said. "So every week I'm going to be hosting discussions and Q&As with the profs, so we can better understand and delve deeper into the curriculum."
Bear said she's grateful to Levy for using his platform to spread awareness of Indigenous Canadian history and issues.
"I think people are, along with COVID, looking for ways to improve," she said. "First it was everyone was baking bread, then maybe everyone was knitting, and now people are getting down to, 'What else can we do?'"
Those who take the course will learn the truth about Canada's fur trade, residential schools, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems, political conflicts and Indigenous activism, as well as a look at what contemporary Indigenous life is all about.
"One of the biggest things for us was to always come with an Indigenous perspective," said Bear. "Instead of just jumping into residential schools and what it did to Indigenous people, what we talk about is how education, how knowledge was passed on through generations prior to residential schools, so people can get a little bit of an idea of what it might be like to look at history through an Indigenous perspective."
For Levy, it represents a chance to learn about history from Indigenous people who have lived through it.
"If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we actively need to relearn history — history that wasn't taught to us in school," he said.
Registration for the course is now open on the University of Alberta's website. It takes 20 hours to complete and students can complete it at their own pace.
Levy said he'll begin hosting discussions on the course on his social media channels beginning Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.