Decolonizing the University

Decolonizing the University: What Can We Do?

On Thursday, February 5, 2015, a standing-room only crowd gathered at the U of M's Fort Garry campus to learn about efforts of decolonization at various universities across Canada. Deborah Young, Executive Lead for Indigenous Achievement at the U of M, opened the dialogue with a presentation on work that is currently being done at the U of M. She spoke about the two questions she is most frequently asked when the topic of decolonization comes up: What does it mean? And how can I help? Visitors Dr. Robina Thomas (University of Victoria), Dr. Linc Kesler (University of British Columbia) and Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (Lakehead University) introduced the audience to a number of innovative programs and practices from their institutions, sharing both challenges and successes.


Thursday, February 5, 2015Decolonizing the University
2:30 pm to 4:00 pm
Senate Chambers (EITC E3 Room 262)

This workshop is open to all.
For more information, please email:

The University of Manitoba recently released its five-year strategic plan. Not only is "Creating Pathways to Indigenous Achievement" one of five institutional priorities, supporting and advancing Indigenous ways of knowing is integrated throughout all areas of the plan. As the UM works towards decolonization, we'll hear from experts who are involved in similar work in other parts of Canada. Everyone is welcome to join this exciting conversation with guest presenters:

  • Dr. Linc Kesler, an Associate Professor of First Nations Studies and English at the University of British Columbia. He is also the Director of UBC's First Nations House of Learning and Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs at UBC. In this role Dr. Kesler is responsible for strategic planning and coordinating Aboriginal initiatives across the university. Hs is Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
  • Dr. Robina Thomas, Director of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement at the University of Victoria. As a teacher and researcher, Dr, Thomas has focused her work within the context of Indigenous programs and Indigenous communities. She is committed to understanding anti-racism and anti-oppression and how these can be 'lived'. Dr. Thomas is Lyackson of the Coast Salish Nation.
  • Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. She is a Board Member at Healthy Minds Canada, sits as a member of the newly formed Governing Council of the National Research Centre at the University of Manitoba, and is an active and engaging media representative. Her research and academic writing is directed towards understanding the continuing transmission of historic and intergenerational trauma and unresolved grief primarily within the Aboriginal community. She is a member of the Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation in Lake Simcoe, Ontario.
  • Ms. Deborah G. Young, Executive Lead for Indigenous Achievement at the University of Manitoba. After six years as a policy advisor at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Ms. Young joined the public service of Canada, where she worked on a number of important policies and programs relating to First Nations, Metis and Inuit Issues. As Executive Lead for Indigenous Achievement, she is working closely with academic administrators, faculty and students to infuse Indigenous cultures, histories and perspectives into curriculum, research, programs and policies. She is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba.

Decolonizing the University: What Can Academic Leaders Do?

Friday, February 6, 2015Decolonizing the University 2
11:30 am to 1:30 pm
543-44 University Centre

This workshop is open to deans, associate deans and department heads.
Space is limited, register by emailing:


Whether you are new to academic administration, or someone who has been involved in this important work for some time, this workshop is open to academic administrators. We'll look at what faculties and departments can do in regards to Indigenous education and planning, we'll explore the challenges the University faces when it comes to "decolonization," and we'll look at best practicies in moving forward. Join guest panellists:

  • Dr. Linc Kesler, Director, UBC First Nations House of Learning and Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs, University of British Columbia;
  • Dr. Robina Thomas, Director, Indigenous Academic & Community Engagement, University of Victoria; and
  • Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives) Lakehead University.