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Concordia creates two new Indigenous leadership positions

Heather Igloliorte and William Lindsay look forward to guiding Concordia’s academic and research directions, and building ties with the community
October 22, 2018
By Sylvie Babarik

Heather Igloliorte: "My work has always focused on engaging with Indigenous peoples." | Photo by David Lipnowski Heather Igloliorte: "My work has always focused on engaging with Indigenous peoples." | Photo by David Lipnowski

Concordia is working hard to enhance the university’s cultural climate for Indigenous learners, staff, faculty and the community at large — from the articulation of a territorial acknowledgement to the establishment of an Indigenous Directions digital hub.

Most recently, the university has announced two new senior appointments.

Heather Igloliorte has assumed the role of special advisor to the provost on Advancing Indigenous Knowledges. William Lindsay will become the new senior director of Indigenous Directions in January.

“The mandate for both of the new positions emerges from recommendations of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group, which was established in 2016,” says Graham Carr, provost and vice-president, Academic.

“They speak to our obligation to respond to the calls to action to universities by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. But equally these positions, and the quality of thought and leadership that Heather and William will bring to them, speak to our ambition to differentiate Concordia as an institution that takes a next-generation approach to Indigenous directions in, and for, the future.”

Heather Igloliorte: ‘I believe in the path forward'

Heather Igloliorte is an Inuk scholar and independent curator who holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement.

Her teaching and research interests centre on Inuit and other Native North American visual and material culture, circumpolar art studies, performance and media art, the global exhibition of Indigenous arts and culture and issues of colonization, sovereignty, resistance and resurgence.

“As an academic, as well as a curator, I have been very privileged to get to do my work both within the university and in the public sphere,” Igloliorte says.

“Because of this, my scholarly and academic work has always focused on engaging with Indigenous peoples, nations, artists, students and youth, in order to build stronger connections between academia and community.”

Supporting Indigenous students, and involving them in meaningful research that benefits Indigenous peoples, is the most rewarding aspect of this, she adds.

“I am looking forward to working with the whole university to make Concordia a site of research excellence for work done by and with Indigenous peoples.”

Igloliorte will continue in her role as co-director of the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF) research cluster in the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology. Through Milieux, she works with collaborators and students to explore how Indigenous peoples are imagining the future of their families and communities.

Igloliorte is also the co-chair of the Winnipeg Art Gallery's Indigenous Advisory Circle. She sits on the Indigenous advisory committees of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the National Film Board of Canada. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Inuit Art Foundation, Native American Art Studies Association and the Nunavut Film Development Corporation. ​​

In her new role, which she assumed on October 1, Igloliorte is responsible for developing and leading a community-wide engagement process to identify, foreground and strategically advance Indigenous academic research and research–creation priorities for Concordia.

“I feel very humbled and grateful for this opportunity to work with our students, faculty and staff, in order to collectively imagine and create a new future for Indigenous research and academics on campus and beyond,” she says.

“I believe in the path forward that we are envisioning with the forthcoming Indigenous Directions Action Plan, and I am excited to collaborate with everyone here on the manifestation of that vision.”

Igloliorte will work with a number of key offices across the university including the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies; Innovation in Teaching and Learning; Planning and Positioning; Lifelong Learning; Partnerships and Experiential Learning; and the Concordia Library.

She will also collaborate with deans and other academic leaders to enable Concordia to become an innovator in Indigenous academic and research activities.

William Lindsay: “I want to forge deeper and stronger ties with Indigenous communities.” William Lindsay: “I want to forge deeper and stronger ties with Indigenous communities.”

William Lindsay: ‘I am ready to listen and learn’

On January 3, 2019, William Lindsay will become the first senior director of Indigenous Directions. He has over 20 years of experience as an Indigenous educator and senior administrator, most recently serving as director of the Office for Aboriginal Peoples and special advisor on Aboriginal Affairs at Simon Fraser University.

Lindsay previously worked in similar roles at the University of British Columbia. He is completing doctoral work at Simon Fraser, researching the Indigenization of universities through Indigenous leadership.

Lindsay has identified four major areas that are important to him in his new position: “encouraging and promoting Indigenous research, attracting and retaining Indigenous students and faculty, Indigenizing and decolonizing curricula and forging deeper and stronger ties with Indigenous communities,” he says.

“My work will be informed by my extensive experience and my research in these areas, but also by the reality at Concordia, as I learn more about the community there.”

Lindsay has received a number of awards, including numerous eagle feathers (an Indigenous honour) for courage and dedication to Indigenous education, an award for bravery from the Vancouver Police Department and an Education’s 100 UBC Alumni Award.

Lindsay is a Status Indian of Cree heritage with experience among Indigenous communities in northern BC and the Lower Mainland.

“I’m really excited to be moving east, with a chance to work more closely with partners from different communities, including the Mohawk, on whose land Concordia is situated,” Lindsay adds.

“I realize some of the details will be different, but my experiences in life, in community and in academia have prepared me to listen with humility and adapt accordingly. I am a guest here and am ready to listen and learn as I begin pitching in.”

Reporting to the provost and vice-president, Academic, Lindsay will provide strategic and visionary leadership to Concordia in advancing the implementation of the Indigenous Directions Action Plan recommendations.

He will identify immediate and long-term goals for supporting the hiring of Indigenous faculty and staff, the enrollment of Indigenous students and the implementation of Indigenous knowledges and protocols at the university. He will also be working with various stakeholders across Concordia.

Find out more about Indigenous Directions at Concordia.


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