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About the Indigenous Directions Action Plan

Introduction

First published as the 2019 Indigenous Directions Action Plan [PDF - 1010 KB], the Plan was envisioned as a guide and tool to enable all Concordians to move the University towards a more equitable and inclusive future, where Indigenous peoples, knowledges, research and scholarship are prioritized and celebrated. It was created, in part, to respond to the 2015 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

With this document, Concordia has committed 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, relevance and respect.

On June 9 2021, the Indigenous Directions Action Plan was relaunched with a new set of recommended action items and highlights of the successes that have been accomplished.


Context

Efforts to decolonize and indigenize Concordia University began decades ago, notably with the establishment of what is today the Otsenhákta Student Centre in 1992, and through the ongoing efforts of our past and current Indigenous faculty, staff and students.

In 2014, Dr. Jason Edward Lewis, professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts, submitted the first proposal to then-President Alan Shepard and then-Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon to develop a plan to address Indigenous issues at Concordia, prior to the conclusion of the TRC in 2015. In 2016, Dr. Elizabeth Fast, Strategic Hire for Indigenous Youth and professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences and Charmaine Lyn, then-Senior Director of the Office of Community Engagement, were appointed as Special Advisors to the Provost on Indigenous Directions, with a three-year mandate to identify and recommend priority areas in which Concordia can improve its responsiveness to the TRC’s Principles for Reconciliation and Calls to Action.

One of their key recommendations was the formation of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group (IDLG). The IDLG’s main mandate was to undertake a university- and community-wide engagement and consultation process. In 2019, the Indigenous Directions Action Plan was launched. The first iteration of the Action Plan was the result of more than a year of invited, open, and targeted consultations, primarily with our Indigenous students, faculty and staff, as well as other interested parties across the University and community members outside of the institution. The IDLG then jointly undertook the task of compiling, writing, refining, vetting, and finalizing the recommended actions that resulted from this community engagement process and led to the creation of the Indigenous Directions Action Plan.

Following the launch of the Action Plan, what began as the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group (IDLG) then became the Indigenous Directions Leadership Council (IDLC), a permanent governance body overseeing the implementation of the Action Plan. One of the first recommended actions of the Indigenous Directions Action Plan to be completed was the establishment of the Office of Indigenous Directions and the creation of a new Senior Director position in the Office of the Provost.

As laid out in the original text, the Action Plan is a living document, which is intended to grow and change in response to each new step forward in our collective work. As such, in 2020, the IDLC began the process of reviewing the Action Plan. This new revised version draws from the feedback received from community stakeholders. Furthermore, our work has been impacted by the release of critical new research and policy documents that have been launched since 2015, including the 231 Calls to Justice of the final report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Public Inquiry Commission on Relations Between Indigenous Peoples and Certain Public Services in Québec (Viens Commission).

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.

Overview

The Indigenous Directions Action Plan draws its strength from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action; Universities Canada’s principles on Indigenous education; the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP); the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the calls to action articulated over the years by Concordia’s internal community of Indigenous faculty, staff and students; 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 Indigenous Directions Action Plan is not a panacea to the multiple complex challenges to indigenization and decolonization that we 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. We have sought to develop a plan that will create optimal conditions for the continued growth and celebration of Indigenous presence at Concordia.

While the calls in this Action Plan are directly a result of the engagement processes — aimed at the highest levels of our university to ensure long-term, 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 that support, build upon, and make visible the work of the Action Plan in all areas of the University.

Through community engagement 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 students;
  • 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 innovative by and with 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 that embraces diversity.

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 Concordia 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 Council

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