Engaging community, expanding Indigenous leadership
In 2019, extensive consultations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the university and greater communities resulted in a ‘What We Heard’ report. Based on feedback from the consultation sessions, the report identified four key themes for action: ‘Organizational Structure’, ‘Governance’, ‘Community’ and ‘Accountability.’
A vision of the changes required was compiled into recommendations in the Indigenous Senior Leadership Report (2019) (ISL Report), which focuses on key areas for action that include Executive and Senior Leadership, Programmatic Leadership, Faculty and Administrative Units, Campus Community and Governance and Administrative Infrastructure at UM.
The ISL Report provides guidance for change and points UM in the direction we need to go. The ISL Report and recommendations were approved by the Board of Governors in October 2019.
The first step in the development of Executive and Senior Leadership was the recruitment and appointment of Dr. Catherine Cook as the inaugural vice-president (Indigenous), who is establishing a strong workforce structure and guiding the implementation process.
Building an action plan
What We Heard
Scroll to learn more about the subsequent report and recommendations.
Report and Recommendations
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Updated December 1, 2021 What we are doing
To address the need for organizational and structural change, six projects have been defined.
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND UNIVERSITY SECRETARY
- Established the position of Vice-President (Indigenous)
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation aligned with the Vice-President (Indigenous) portfolio
- Five Indigenous Senators nominated to Senate – enhanced representation on some Senate committees
- Encouraged UM vice-presidents to identify Indigenous leads for each portfolio
- Began discussion of role and structure of a Joint-Board Senate Committee
- Discussion and action underway (election processes) to augment Indigenous representation on relevant Senate and Board of Governors committees
- Discussions underway around the creation of a university-wide Reconciliation Action Plan
Support team for the Vice-President (Indigenous) now includes new positions:
- Stephanie Scott, Executive Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Dr. Cary Miller, Associate Vice-President (Indigenous) - Scholarship, Research and Curriculum
- Christine Cyr, Associate Vice-President (Indigenous) Students, Community and Cultural Integration
- Ruth Shead, Director, Indigenous Engagement and Communications
- Maria Morrison, Director, Office of the Vice-President (Indigenous)
Eight Indigenous community engagement listening sessions held to date, which will inform the development of an Indigenous Community Engagement Action Plan that supports Indigenous learners, community-led research and community development goals
Completed internal and external environmental scan (read the internal environmental scan) to assess existing supports for Indigenous students, staff and faculty to establish a network of supports for Indigenous scholars and staff across faculties and administration units
- Additional Indigenous community engagement dialogue sessions to continue until April 2022
- Indigenous Advisory Circle development to advise UM President and senior leaders
- Elder position for the Office of the Vice-President (Indigenous)
PROVOST AND VICE-PRESIDENT (ACADEMIC)
- Final report on all in-progress items to be finalized in early 2022
- Recommending a process for establishing senior administrative Indigenous leads
- Recommending increasing Indigenous representation on faculty committees
- Guiding the process for ensuring deans meet regularly with Indigenous students, faculty and staff
- Recommending a process for developing a plan to roll out Indigenous training for faculty, staff and students
- Recommending a process for establishing Elders-in-Residence for all faculties/clusters of faculties
- Guiding the process for developing faculty Reconciliation Action Plans
- Strengthening links with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Developing a plan to Indigenizing physical and virtual spaces
- Developed a strategy to hire an Indigenous Rights Officer - job description completed
- Developing an anti-Indigenous racism strategy – engaged in a visioning process to map out the strategy, centering it in ceremony and completing a bundle for leadership
- Developing a strategy for recruiting, respecting and retaining Indigenous employees - sub-committee meets regularly
- Hiring of an Indigenous rights specialist
- Developing a collective bargaining process to include language supporting Indigenous faculty and staff success
- Developing a system to recognize the contributions of Indigenous students, staff, faculty, alumni and community when requests extend beyond the normal expectations of service
- Working groups established and tasks assigned
- Recognizing the contributions of Indigenous students, staff, faculty, alumni and community through complementary initiatives, including:
- Offering and supporting Indigenous literacy training for all External Relations staff
- Creating an Indigenous language style guide/series
- Using various media platforms to recognize and celebrate contributions and achievements
- Providing opportunities for Indigenous faculty and staff to share their scholarship, cultural experiences with alumni and/or offer training for alumni and their families
- Looking for opportunities to increase Indigenous representation in all areas (Alumni; Donor Relations; Government Relations and Public Affairs; Marketing and Communications), to be more in line with the community in our province, with the following considerations:
- Develop job descriptions for Indigenous-specific positions that include requirements of attending ceremonies and Indigenous events as part of their work, relationship-building and connecting with Indigenous community members
- Develop flexible work opportunities such as freelance hires, term positions and part-time work – recognizing that not everyone may want to work in a full-time, permanent position
VICE-PRESIDENT (RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL)
- Reviewed frameworks and policies to foster, establish and maintain community-faculty partnership for research
- Developed and sent two surveys to stakeholders across campus
- Survey sent to associate deans research across campus
- Addressing research in a way that captures the wide range of research practices on campus – across disciplines and units; funded and unfunded; conducted by students, postdoctoral students or faculty members; in long-standing or new partnerships with Indigenous communities – and their respective needs and constraints
- Final reports in two areas are being finalized: development of a framework of research ethics; and establishment of community and faculty partnerships
- Considering how research ethics processes might better serve Indigenous research and Indigenous researchers
- Considering how Indigenous research and Indigenous researchers are evaluated within processes for admission and advancement
Read more about our project teams.
The project teams include faculty, staff and students representing all areas of the university, allowing us to maximize senior leadership support and share the reconciliation efforts. This is consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action that clearly identify this process as a Canadian commitment to change, not an Indigenous problem to be resolved by the Indigenous community alone.
Each project consists of representation from departments and faculties across the university, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty and staff, and Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Over 60 people are actively involved in 29 commitments.
Establishing the structure, funding and supports necessary to implement the recommendations has been the first priority. In the coming years, the commitments the project teams are working on will create tangible deliverables that strengthen Indigenous achievement. These outcomes will include new Indigenous course content, training for staff and faculty, Reconciliation Action Plans, a community engagement strategy, and new and revised impactful strategies and policies.
How to get involved
If you are a UM faculty, staff or student and would like support any of the project efforts, please reach out to us. We would like to continually create opportunities to strengthen and expand upon current approaches through ongoing policy review and action.