It’s an honour to introduce this new edition of our Indigenous Directions Action Plan, the importance and impact of which should be felt every day.
The health pandemic that began early in 2020 exacerbated and threw into even starker relief many longstanding inequities in our society. Tragically, it also created new hardships and vulnerabilities. We experienced this in the higher education sector as many of our Indigenous students, particularly those living in remote communities, were severely disadvantaged by the online environment in which we were forced to operate. For many of our students — and the communities of which they’re part — the pandemic brought additional burdens to access and success for them, for us, to overcome.
That is only one example. If something good is to come from the challenges we have experienced perhaps it will be the further realization of how systemic inequities operate to frustrate opportunities for Indigenous peoples in society including, unfortunately, in institutions like ours. And with that realization, I hope, will come an even greater sense of urgency to act together to design a better future.
This is why Concordia’s Indigenous Directions Action Plan, as it is so aptly named, matters greatly to us all. While I feel very proud of the progress we have made to date, we will be judged by our delivery of the meaningful actions yet to come.
The Action Plan is a road map for Concordia. It outlines the steps we need to take to fulfill our commitment to decolonize and indigenize the university. It guides us to think about our collective grand project of building a better university, a stronger community, by celebrating different knowledges and grounding our actions in the values of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.
In that spirit, our ability to make progress also depends on frequent consultations, active listening and, let’s be clear, a lot of hard, dedicated work. Here, I want to express my sincerest appreciation and deep gratitude to all members of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Council, past and current, who have lent their invaluable insight, but also committed much time and energy — both personal and professional — to this process for more than five years now.
Our Indigenous Directions Action Plan is important for what it intends to accomplish. With its ambition to make meaningful social change and strive always for a higher standard, the Plan is emblematic of what makes Concordia a next-generation university.
President and Vice-Chancellor