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Explore, analyze, and reflect on the experiences of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and their relationship with non-Aboriginal people. Develop an understanding of these relationships by learning about Aboriginal history, governance, literature, community relations, health, well-being, and land use.

There are increasing opportunities related to working with Aboriginal Peoples and communities in social services and the fields of education, health, fashion, business, and land use. Many employers are looking for knowledgeable individuals to work with Aboriginal Peoples in respectful and collaborative ways.

This award-winning program addresses Ryerson University’s commitment to increasing Aboriginal participation in post-secondary education. This goal is indicated in the Ontario Government’s Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Policy as well as Ryerson’s commitment to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

This program received the 2017 CAUCE Award for Credit Programming over 48 Hours. This award-winning program can be completed entirely online.

What Will You Learn?

Explore Aboriginal lived experiences through a curriculum from Aboriginal perspectives, taught by Aboriginal scholars and experienced community teachers.

Learn how to:

  • Build and apply your critical awareness of yourself in relation to Aboriginal Peoples, experiences, and worldviews.
  • Assess and understand the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian government.
  • Synthesize and communicate how Aboriginal Peoples have been impacted by laws, policies, and practices in the health, social services, human resources, and other sectors.
  • Execute projects within agencies and organizations

Industry and Careers

The Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences may help you get jobs or advance your career in:

  • Community workplaces and professional disciplines that engage with Aboriginal communities, agencies, and people.
  • Public or private sector roles in social work, health sciences, education, policy, law, geography, and community leadership.

Possible Job Titles

  • Aboriginal Cancer Care Coordinator, Health Services Field
  • Aboriginal Community Outreach Assistant
  • Aboriginal Education Advisor
  • Aboriginal Education Consultant
  • Aboriginal Health Liaison Nurse, Registered Nurse
  • Aboriginal Nursing Advisor
  • Aboriginal Outreach/Recruitment Officer
  • Aboriginal Support Facilitator
  • Community and Aboriginal Liaison
  • Director, Aboriginal Relations Branch, Government
  • Education and Awareness Facilitator
  • Employee Engagement Coordinator
  • Employee Relations Specialist
  • Inclusion and Diversity Advisor
  • Human Resources Assistant/Administrator
  • Human Resources Consultant
  • Official Language Coordinator, Aboriginal Language Programs
  • Recruitment Specialist/Manager
  • Senior Advisor, Aboriginal Affairs, Environmental Assessment Agency
  • Senior Representative Community and Aboriginal Affairs
  • Staff Coordinator
  • Strong Voices Aboriginal Program Coordinator
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist/Manager

Who Should Take This Certificate?

The Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences is intended for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, professionals, and community members who seek knowledge about Aboriginal health and well-being, governance, literature, community relations, and land use in Canada.

You may be interested if you:

  • Work in social work, health sciences, education, policy, law, geography, or community leadership.
  • Work in fields and professional disciplines that engage with Aboriginal communities and agencies.
  • Want to obtain employment in occupations that address, or should address, Aboriginal concerns in public, private, and not-for-profit sector organizations.

Individuals without post-secondary education are invited to this university-level program to build their capacity and acquire support and confidence to achieve educational goals at the university level.

Who Teaches the Courses?

Your instructors will include representatives from the Aboriginal community at Ryerson and externally.

Aboriginal faculty and instructors develop and teach the program curriculum bringing a depth of expertise in the fields of social work, social justice, oppression and diversity studies, research, and community work.


Our Partners

Ryerson University’s Aboriginal Education Council (AEC) is an important partner. The AEC helps ensure the certificate continually represents Aboriginal worldviews and is responsive to societal needs. The AEC has an active advisory role in contributing to and monitoring guidelines for the selection of instructors in this certificate. This is consistent with a major role of the AEC, which is to give input into Aboriginal programming and education at Ryerson.

You may also wish to visit Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services for more information about Ryerson’s specialized services for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students on campus.

Certificate Requirements

  • 2 required courses*
  • 4 electives
  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA) 1.67+

*If you are an undergraduate student who has completed SWP 435, you may apply for a course substitution towards CINT 922. However, if you complete INT 922/CINT 922, you may not apply for a course substitution towards SWP 435.


Admission Criteria    


  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent
    • With 6 Grade 12 U or M credits (including English)
    • With a minimum average of 70 percent


  • Mature student status

Note: If you do not meet the above stated admission criteria, you may seek advice and assistance from Spanning the Gaps – Access to Post-Secondary Education and Community Engagement or from Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning offers a valuable opportunity to apply the concepts and knowledge gained through your studies in a professional workplace environment. The experiential elective course included in this certificate provides a project-based experiential learning opportunity through which you will gain professional contacts, practical skills and hands-on experience.

CVSW 932 - Aboriginal Knowledges in Practice

For more information about experiential learning opportunities in the community services area at The Chang School, contact Farheen Hasan, Experiential Learning Coordinator: farheen.hasan@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000, ext. 7491.


“The Chang school experience has helped with my professional goals by allowing me to take courses at my pace. With the Certificate and prior education I am now able to work in Indigenous organizations. All I ever really wanted to do is empower my fellow Indigenous people across Turtle Island. The Chang School has also strengthened my writing abilities and given me the opportunity to work in my community as a course credit and work on any project that I wanted. I am a published author who contributed to someone else’s book. I was able to start to work on my own book project that will help my community and beyond.”

Phyllis Mckenna

Melissa Compton“Understanding Aboriginal identities can be complex, shaped by historical factors, social and political contexts, individual characteristics, and family dynamics. Learning these dynamics through the Certificate will enhance academic success and foster positive environments and relationships.”

Melissa Compton

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be Aboriginal to register in the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences?

No. The Certificate is designed for learners from all backgrounds to expand their awareness of themselves in relation to Aboriginal Peoples, experiences, and worldviews, and the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian government. The audience for this certificate includes both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and professionals who seek knowledge about Aboriginal governance, health and well-being, literature, community relations, and land use in Canada.

I am Aboriginal. What new information will I learn in the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences?

This is a multidisciplinary certificate that covers a diversity of areas such as art, literature, social work, midwifery, governance, and more.

Can I transfer courses from other universities and colleges and have them count toward the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences?

Yes. You can apply for transfer credits for courses taken at another university that are very similar to the courses in the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences. However, you will be required to submit your course syllabus and transcript. If your application is successful, one or more transfer credits will be credited to electives.

How long does it take to complete the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences?

Some learners will be able to complete the program in two years by taking one course each term. Others may finish it in only one year by taking more than one course each term. However, once you have registered in the certificate, you must complete it within six years from the time you were first admitted into the certificate program.

How much time will I have to spend on course work each week?

It is common to spend between six and eight hours per week for each course.

Is the Academic Coordinator for the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences an Aboriginal academic? What is the role of the Academic Coordinator?

Yes, the Academic Coordinator for the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences is Shane Young.

Shane is a professor in the School of Social Work and is of Mi'kmaq, Irish, and English ancestry. Originally from the southwestern coast of Newfoundland, he has spent the past 13 years working within Indigenous communities in TorontoShane’s research focuses on the exploration of the colonial interference imposed onto Indigenous identity through forced removal and assimilation, and unearthing ways in which healing can create personal and cultural sovereignty. In Fall of 2019, Shane continues graduate studies: PhD in Indigenous Studies, at Trent University. 

The role of the Academic Coordinator is to assist students in advising them in determining if this certificate will meet their learning needs while also linking students to the resources needed to support their success. You can contact Shane at shane.young@ryerson.ca.

I have not been enrolled in an academic program in several years. Will I be able to handle the workload?

Many of our learners have not been in an academic program in the past five years, and some have recently returned to school after several more years. We cannot guarantee you will succeed in the program, but our instructors recognize that different students need varying levels of assistance to make the transition back to university-level study. If you have not been in university before, or are returning after a long absence, you may consider taking preparation courses to prepare yourself for the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences’ courses. Speak to the Academic Coordinator for further information.

Can I receive assistance with my writing skills to get them to a university level?

Like most university-level programs, the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences assumes that students have the communication skills (written and verbal) necessary to complete term papers and other assignments. If you need assistance in this area, please contact Writing Support or, if you are an Aboriginal learner, you may wish to contact Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services (RASS).

I have a disability. Will I be accommodated in the Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences?

Yes. However, accommodations are often highly individualized. You are encouraged to contact Ryerson University’s Academic Accommodation Support as soon as possible to arrange the specific accommodations you may require. If you are an Aboriginal learner, you may also contact RASS to assist you with contacting the Access Centre.

Awards and Financial Aid


Contact Us

Questions? Contact Shane Young, Academic Coordinator.

Email:  shane.young@ryerson.ca

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