The University of Alberta has made two announcements related to Truth and Reconciliation. UAlberta has signed a historic agreement with Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta (T8FN) that aims to improve high school graduation rates by offering dual-credit courses, promoting postsecondary education, and ensuring that students have relevant coursework and hands-on experiences to help them connect with the job market. UAlberta has also released a report that outlines its progress on the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. The report is accompanied by a dashboard that shows the university’s progress in a variety of areas, including Language and Culture, Health, Justice, and Education for Reconciliation.
Concordia University has released a self-reflection guide for researchers, academics, and students who want to decolonize their relationships with Indigenous communities. is an online resource that offers guidance and principles for creating meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples, organizations, and communities. “As universities respond to the call to decolonize and Indigenize their institutions, we hope that this guide will be a tool that non-Indigenous faculty, students and staff can use to reflect on their motivations for this work and then take action to move Indigenous knowledges and processes from the margins to the centre,” says Concordia Indigenous Community Engagement Assistant and co-creator of the guide Amanda Shawayahamish.
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, the Métis Education Foundation, and the Rupertsland Institute have established the Métis Education Foundation Endowment Fund after co-fundraising $1M. The partners came together in 2019 with the goal of raising $950K in ten years to support Métis student success; due to the generosity of donors, this dream was achieved in less than half that time. “It’s been a very meaningful joint fundraising effort, with Rupertsland, to support SAIT Metis students and a remarkable achievement to witness,” said SAIT Associate Director of Development Anthony Salekin. “To reach a goal like this, which will provide significant student award funding in perpetuity, on time, would be reason to celebrate as it is. To do it with six years to spare is incredible and indicative of its importance.”
In a recent article for University Affairs, Mohamed Berrada discusses the results of a Universities Canada survey, which measured the progress that has been made toward reconciliation at Canadian postsecondary institutions. According to the survey, nearly 90% of the 70 institutions surveyed have developed strategic plans to foster reconciliation. However, First Nations University of Canada President Jacqueline Ottmann notes that meaningful Indigenization and reconciliation must go beyond the establishment of strategic plans and should be followed up by financial commitments, concrete support systems for Indigenous students, and increased opportunities for community-based learning. Universities Canada CEO Philip Landon reflected that the survey “helped us understand that the university sector has come a long way, but [institutions] still have a long way to go.”
The Government of the Northwest Territories has requested input on Trent University’s application to offer an Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences diploma program. The program was developed in partnership with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and incorporates Dene ways of knowing and being and course work involving Dene land use protocols, Dene land stewardship practices, and traditional Dene land navigation skills. The diploma is jointly offered by Trent’s School of the Environment and the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies. The program would be offered in NWT starting in Fall 2023.
The University of Saskatchewan and Lethbridge College have both introduced new Indigenous jerseys for their sports teams as a way of honouring Truth and Reconciliation. The special logo for USask’s Huskie Athletics was created by artist Chris Chipak from Red Pheasant First Nations. The logo incorporates a variety of symbols, such as the inukshuk, a feather, and the Indigenous medicine wheel. Lethbridge’s Kodiaks team will unveil new Indigenous jerseys today. The jerseys will only be worn on special occasions, with the first planned use of the jerseys set for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
BHP has announced a $2.6M three-year partnership with Indspire. The partnership will fund the expansion of Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards program and support multi-year travel grants for the and the events.”¯”œBHP’s expanded commitment to Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures bursaries and scholarships program is a meaningful commitment to empowering First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across the country to achieve their educational goals,” said Indspire President Mike DeGagné.
Mount Royal University recently launched an Indigenous Mentorship program to help Indigenous students connect with industry professionals. The program was developed in response to the need for career services and opportunities that are specifically tailored to Indigenous students. The mentors for the program include both Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals, all of whom are connected to Indigenous communities in some way. “Career mentorship is powerful because [the students] can understand the journey of their mentor and learn more about the industry,” explained MRU Career Services Director Sarah Imran.
Reconciliation-focused initiatives are bringing changes to postsecondary institutions across Canada. At the University of Waterloo, optometry student Jeremiah Hyslop met with vision card manufacturer Precision Vision and consulted with elders and professors to find alternative culturally appropriate wording for reading cards. Carleton University Associate Professor Duncan McCue will be leading a course on reporting in Indigenous communities using a flipped classroom model that emphasizes building strong relationships between students and communities. Queen’s University Assistant Professor Lindsay Borrows is bringing land-based and Indigenous community-engaged education into law education. At Dalhousie University, Indigenous Student Centre Advisor Kayla Bernard has blended traditional and modern approaches to help Indigenous students acclimatize to life on campus.
Several postsecondary institutions have unveiled Indigenous artworks and announced musical events this week. Emily Carr University of Art and Design installed the “Pacific Song of the Ancestors” totem pole, which was designed by Master Carvers Dempsey Bob (Tahltan-Tlingit), Stan Bevan (Tahltan-Tlingit and Tsimshian), and Lyonel Grant (MÄori and Pakeha). The pole is accompanied by an exhibition of the same name which is curated by ECUAD student ZoÃ« Laycock. Red Deer Polytechnic recently added the art piece “4 Star Art Warrior” to their collection. The painting is by artist and alumnus George Littlechild, who is of Plains Cree heritage with connections to the Maskwacis Nations, and will be displayed inside the polytechnic’s main entrance as a reminder of the journey toward reconciliation. Brandon University’s School of Music and the IshKaabatens Waasa Gaa Inaabateg Department of Visual Art will come together for a musical performance this weekend that reflects on truth, reconciliation, and commonality.