Concordia University

https://www.concordia.ca/content/concordia/en/about/indigenous/action-plan.html

Indigenous Directions Action Plan

 

 

The Indigenous Directions Action Plan is envisioned as a guide and tool to enable all Concordians to move the University towards a more equitable and inclusive future. It is created, in part, to respond to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

 

With this document, Concordia commits to taking concrete steps towards the decolonization and Indigenization of our institution, in order for us to co-construct a new, shared future based on responsibility, reciprocity, and respect.

 

 

 

 

Message from Concordia's Provost and VP, Academic

This is an historic moment for Concordia University.
As Provost and Vice President, Academic, it’s been my privilege to witness the development of our Indigenous Directions Action Plan. The idea for the Plan was originally conceived as Concordia’s response to the Calls to Action and Principles of Reconciliation of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But this document goes further, differentiating Concordia from how other higher education institutions have approached this important work in Québec and across Canada. It reflects who we are, capturing our spirit as an action-oriented, community-minded university.
I want to express a deep debt of gratitude to all past and current members of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group who are the collective authors of this Plan. Their work was demanding, complex and often intensely personal. It involved extensive consultations with Indigenous students and alumni, staff and faculty, as well as external community partners and advisors. It required much reflection, much discussion, and thoughtful, deliberate crafting. The Plan sets clear directions on how we, the Concordia community, should undertake our collective work of decolonizing and Indigenizing our university. It is called an Action Plan for a reason and our responsibility going forward is to make good not just on what it recommends, but also on what it intends.
The Action Plan marks the beginning of what will be a continuous voyage for Concordia. It is a living document that will be further enriched over time by experience, by practice and through learning. I sincerely hope that the Plan will also signal to others our aspiration to be a place where Indigenous Peoples, knowledges and languages can thrive, where diversity is valued as a source of understanding our society and ourselves.
The Indigenous Directions Action Plan is part of what makes us a next generation university. The task of executing it should inspire us to take pride.
 
Graham Carr, Provost & Vice-President, Academic

 

 

Context

Efforts to decolonize and Indigenize Concordia University began decades ago, notably with the establishment of what is today the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre in 1992, and through the ongoing efforts of our past and current Indigenous faculty, staff and students. In 2014, Jason Edward Lewis (CRC in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary, Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts, Trudeau Fellow and IDLG member) submitted the first proposal to the President and Provost to develop a plan to address Indigenous issues at Concordia, prior to the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. In 2016, Elizabeth Fast (Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences and IDLG member) and Charmaine Lyn (Senior Director of the Office of Community Engagement and IDLG member) were appointed as Special Advisors to the Provost on Indigenous Directions with a 3-year mandate to identify and recommend priority areas in which Concordia can improve its responsiveness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s Principles for Reconciliation and Calls to Action.
This Action Plan is one key result of both that longer history of Indigenous advocacy and activism, as well as the 3-year mandate set out in the fall of 2016, when the Special Advisors worked with the Provost to recruit members to the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group (IDLG). The IDLG is composed almost entirely of Indigenous faculty, staff and students at Concordia. The main task set to the IDLG was to undertake a university and community-wide engagement and consultation process, although the work they have collectively accomplished on behalf of the University since 2016 extends far beyond that mandate. 
This Action Plan is the result of more than a year of invited, open, and targeted consultations, primarily with our Indigenous students, faculty and staff, as well as others across the University and community members outside of the institution. The Indigenous Directions Leadership Group then jointly undertook the monumental task of compiling, writing, refining, vetting, and finalizing the recommended actions that numerous members of our community contributed to, resulting in this document.

 

 

Our hope is grounded in the resilience of Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the past, present and future, and the courage that our University has demonstrated in creating a meaningful space in which Indigenous voices and perspectives are centered in the development and articulation of a vision for the future and the beginnings of a path moving us toward that future together.

 

 

action-plan-graphic-facilitation Graphic created by Alina Gutierrez Mejia of Visual Versa at the Internal Launch of the Action Plan (March 2019).

 

 

About the Action Plan

While the IDLG mandate set by the Provost explicitly refers to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, the IDLG also acknowledges many other sources: calls to action articulated over the years by Concordia’s internal community of Indigenous faculty, staff and students, together with their allies; Universities Canada’s Principles on Indigenous educationthe Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP)the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the work of our colleagues at other institutions across Canada and internationally; and the longstanding leadership of Indigenous Peoples and communities in ongoing grassroots collective action.
The Action Plan is not a panacea to the multiple complex challenges to reconciliation, Indigenization and decolonization that we and our key stakeholders have observed and experienced. Rather, we have set out a number of actions that we believe have the potential to prepare the ground for further, ongoing and increasingly intensified efforts to recalibrate and transform the University’s internal and external relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities.
Our recommended actions aim to respond to these internal demands as much as towards the minimum criteria that the TRC put forward. We have sought to develop a plan that will create optimal conditions for continued growth of Indigenous presence among students, faculty and staff at Concordia.
While the calls in this Action Plan are directly a result of the consultation processes - aimed at the highest levels of our University in order to ensure longterm, effective institutional change - we welcome and encourage all Concordians to take up the spirit of this living document by considering how each of us can work together towards these shared goals.
We welcome new ideas, strategies, and voices in these processes going forward that support, build upon, and make visible the work of the Action Plan in all areas of the University.
Through community consultation and collaborative effort, the Action Plan puts forth:
  • Structures and policies that allow for greater participation of Indigenous communities, students, staff and faculty in the university’s governance;

 

  • The integration of Indigenous knowledge and the Principles of Reconciliation into existing courses, programs, and governance structures at Concordia;

 

  • Steps that should be undertaken to enhance the cultural climate at Concordia for Indigenous students, staff, and faculty;

 

  • Strategies, programs and services that will support and facilitate Concordia’s recruitment, admission, retention, and graduation of Indigenous learners;

 

  • Strategies, programs and services that will support and facilitate Concordia’s recruitment and retention of Indigenous faculty and staff; and

 

  • Ways to foster, strengthen and showcase the innovative research being done by Indigenous faculty and students in partnership with Indigenous communities
 
We are guided by Concordia’s mission to be welcoming, engaged, and committed to innovation and excellence in education, research, creative activity and community partnerships. Concordia dares to be different and draws on its diversity to transform the individual, strengthen society and enrich the world.
We are guided by the University’s Nine Strategic Directions, and envision this Action Plan as entirely aligned with the ambitious goals that Concordia has set for itself as an institution and as a community comprised of diverse members.
We are guided by the meaning of Concordia Salus – wellbeing through harmony – the City of Montreal’s motto.
Our hope is grounded in the resilience of Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the past, present and future, and the courage that our University has demonstrated in creating a meaningful space in which Indigenous voices and perspectives are centered in the development and articulation of a vision for the future and the beginnings of a path moving us toward that future together.
 
Sincerely,
Heather Igloliorte, Special Advisor to the Provost on Advancing Indigenous Knowledges - on behalf of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group
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