The Indigenous Directions Leadership Group welcomes 4 new members — and launches an online hub

Find out about First Peoples Studies at Concordia, student resources and more
October 16, 2017
By James Roach

"Returning to Ourselves" by Elizabeth LaPensée "Returning to Ourselves" by Elizabeth LaPensée

: “Our minds greet yours.”

New Indigenous Directions Leadership Group members

Concordia’s Indigenous Directions Leadership Group (IDLG) was formed in late 2016. Since then, it has made great strides toward realizing its mandate of recommending priority areas where the university can improve its responsiveness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Principles and Calls to Action.

This fall, the IDLG welcomes its newest members: Ronald Abraira, Vicky Boldo, Orenda Boucher-Curotte and  Karl Hele.

Boucher-Curotte is also coordinator of Concordia’s Aboriginal Student Resource Centre (ASRC), Boldo is the ASRC’s interim elder-in-residence, Hele is an associate professor of First Peoples Studies, and Abraira is a lecturer in the Department of Management at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB). 

Two founding members have stepped down from the IDLG: Elizabeth Fast (assistant professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences), Cheryl Lahache-Homer (BA 15 and former ASRC team member). Louellyn White (assistant professor in First Peoples Studies) has stepped back from the IDLG during a sabbatical year.* 

During their tenure, they provided invaluable insights and contributions to the development of the Indigenous Directions action plan that the group is hoping to share in spring 2018. “I’m particularly grateful to Liz,” says Graham Carr, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs.

“As one of my two special advisors on Indigenous Directions, she demonstrated wonderful leadership in helping the university start down this important path of reconciliation. She also profoundly deepened my understanding of the importance and complexity of the issues we must address in developing a meaningful university-wide response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”  

‘A spotlight on the great things happening’

Concordia’s new Indigenous Directions digital hub centralizes information on student services including the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre (ASRC), research and community-based projects, as well as profiles of Indigenous students, alumni and faculty members.

It also serves as a useful resource to help new and prospective Indigenous students connect with mentors and role models. Included in the hub are bios of faculty, overviews of their teaching areas, research priorities, community projects and their contact information.

“Concordia has a welcoming, vibrant and engaged community of students, faculty, staff and community partners,” says Charmaine Lyn, senior director of the Office of Community Engagement and special advisor to the provost on Indigenous Directions.

“The hub helps shine a spotlight on some of the great things happening at the university.”

Conceived as one of Concordia’s first moves under its strategic directions initiative, Indigenous Directions is a step toward the Indigenization of Concordia and a platform to showcase the university’s priorities and intentions.

The project was made possible by Lisa Ostiguy, deputy provost, who headed a large steering committee in its initial phases. It was then launched thanks to a number of university partners, including University Communications Services, under the guidance of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group (IDLG).

Concordia’s territorial acknowledgment

While the hub delivers news, events, information on Indigenous course content, research and community projects, it also houses Concordia’s territorial acknowledgment.

Shiann Wahéhshon Whitebean (BA 17) and Hele, authored the protocol. They were assisted by White.

The territorial acknowledgement is highly visible on the hub so that staff, faculty, students and community partners can easily find it, and thanks to a series of FAQs, understand when and where it can be read.

“It encourages a deeper level of respect from students, faculty, staff and community partners by recognizing the long history of Indigenous peoples within the traditional territory on which Concordians study, research, learn, work and live,” Lyn explains.

“The practice of acknowledging the territory is an expression of respect for Indigenous peoples as the traditional custodians of land on which the university is located.”

An interactive timeline 

Faculty members Jason Lewis and Monica Mulrennan worked with research assistants Anne-Sophie Belanger and Lianne Maritzer to realize a historic timeline of Concordia’s engagement with Indigenous issues.

Starting on January 1, 1980, with an Indigenous media course offered by Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, the timeline moves across nearly four decades to include the 2016 appointment of special advisors on Indigenous Directions at Concordia.

Concordia's Indigenous Directions hub and don’t forget to sign up for the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group monthly newsletter.


*Note: an earlier version of this story stated that Louellyn White stepped down from the IDLG. She did not step down from the IDLG but is not active during her sabbatical year.


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