Two University of Saskatchewan professors are the first Aboriginal scholars from the institution to be elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

Sakej Henderson is a director at the Native Law Centre and Marie Battiste teaches at the College of Education.

Battiste says recognition by the prestigious academic society is evidence that the Canadian university system is beginning to broaden what it considers to be scholarly research.

“The Social Sciences and Research Council through their Aboriginal program has opened up those doors wide,” she says. “And there has been for quite some years funding that has gone into doing a lot of research with Indigenous communities, not on Indigenous communities, but with Indigenous communities and with Indigenous scholars.”

Henderson, whose academic work focuses on challenging the Crown to honour treaties, admits he was initially a bit reluctant to join what some may see as a colonial order but later reconsidered.

“For myself, I had a lot of hesitations about it at first but was convinced that since the treaties are with the Crown and the royals, then I had an obligation to bring that spirit into the Royal Society again.”

Battiste’s academic research examines how to develop and create the Indigenous humanities.

Henderson and Battiste are also married to one and other and have worked and published together in the past.

The Royal Society of Canada was first established in 1882 to recognize achievements by scholars in the arts, humanities and sciences.