Concordia launches an Indigenous Directions action plan

The new guiding document will set the university on course to a more equitable and inclusive future
April 4, 2019
William Lindsay: “The university is ready to go to work.” | Image: "Returning to Ourselves" by Elizabeth LaPensée

Today, Concordia announced the launch of its Indigenous Directions action plan — Concordia’s Path Towards Decolonizing and Indigenizing the University.

The action plan was created and implemented in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 2015 Calls to Action. It signals Concordia’s commitment to move the university towards a more equitable and inclusive future in full engagement with Indigenous communities.

“The action plan was created through consultation with the university community. It is envisioned as a guide and tool to enable all Concordians to embrace meaningful reconciliation with confidence,” says Graham Carr, Concordia’s provost and vice-president, Academic.

“With this document, we pledge to take tangible steps to co-construct a hopeful future based on shared responsibility, reciprocity and respect.”

Graham Carr speaking to Donna Kahérakwas Goodleaf, Indigenous Curriculum and Pedagogy Advisor at the Internal Launch of the Action Plan on March 13, 2019. | Photo by Adrian Morillo Graham Carr speaking to Donna Kahérakwas Goodleaf, Indigenous curriculum and pedagogy advisor, at the internal launch of the action plan on March 13. | Photo by Adrian Morillo

‘Ambitious goals and permanent commitments’

The plan outlines a number of steps 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.

Overall, the action plan aims to:

  • Improve education for all learners by creating opportunities for Indigenous knowledge to be integrated into the university and pedagogy
  • Promote a better, more culturally safe environment for Indigenous students, staff and faculty
  • Increase recruitment and retention of Indigenous students, staff and faculty
  • Encourage Indigenous-led and community-based research and research-creation by and for Indigenous peoples
  • Facilitate greater opportunity for participation in governance by Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Foster an atmosphere at Concordia that is welcoming and supportive of Indigenous cultures and worldviews

“These are ambitious goals for us, and ones that we see as a statement of the university’s ongoing commitment and direction going forward,” Carr adds.

He also thanks the members of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group — past and present — for their dedication and hard work.

“Inspired by their tireless efforts, we have already started to lay the foundation of what we hope is a next-generation approach to decolonizing and Indigenizing the university,” Carr says.

Heather Igloliorte, associate professor of art history and special advisor to the provost on Advancing Indigenous Knowledges, played a key role in the development of the action plan. She notes that even while planning and consultation were underway, Concordia had begun to lay out its course as an institution.

“There has already been a lot of work done by the members of the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group and by our Indigenous students, staff and faculty, in collaboration with colleagues and community members both within and outside the university,” Igloliorte says.

“I think, though, that the official launch of the plan is a real opportunity for us to take a big step forward together and to imagine not just where we are now but where we’d like to move to in the future.”

‘The university is ready to go to work’

Key initiatives already undertaken by Concordia include:

William Lindsay, senior director of Indigenous Directions, says he is hopeful that the action plan will set Concordia on a great course for the future — positioning the university as a welcoming space where Indigenous concerns, interests and opportunities are heard, understood and included.

“The launch of the plan sends a message that Concordia takes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action very seriously as a post-secondary institution,” he says.

“It also signals that the university has gone through an extensive consultation process and is ready to go to work on this particular action plan. It’s quite a thrilling time to be here at Concordia. If we’re successful at implementation, it will really set us up as a model in this part of the country.”

Read the new Indigenous Directions action plan, Concordia’s Path Towards Decolonizing and Indigenizing the University, and stay tuned for upcoming information sessions.


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