Queen’s releases report following dialogues on Indigeneity
July 8, 2022
Last fall, Queen’s engaged First Peoples Group, an Indigenous advisory firm based in Ottawa, to lead a focused conversation around Indigeneity.
The Indigenous-led, Indigenous-facilitated dialogue featured sessions with staff, faculty, community members, and others, and today, Queen’s released the final report. It collects the thoughts and recommendations that resulted from this consultative process and provides a series of recommendations. As a first step, Queen’s will establish an Indigenous Oversight Council to guide the university on a path forward.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane and Chancellor Murray Sinclair have issued statements to share their thoughts on the report and the work that lies ahead for Queen’s in its commitment to advancing reconciliation.
Statement from Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane:
Queen’s is committed to truth and reconciliation and to fostering a healthy university community. I want to thank the First Peoples Group for their report and for their work over the last year as they engaged our Indigenous faculty, staff, as well as additional Indigenous community members in a dialogue on Indigeneity. I am grateful to Kanonhsyonne Jan Hill for the assistance she provided supporting the dialogue process. This has been a challenging time for Queen’s. The issues raised in this dialogue process have been significant and it has not been an easy process for the institution and those involved.
In principle, the university accepts the recommendations of the dialogue report. They provide us with direction and serve as a starting point for the work that lies ahead. Our immediate response will be to establish an Indigenous Oversight Council to advise the university on matters of Indigenous representation and citizenship. The Council will draw its membership from the land upon which the university stands, along with Indigenous scholars and other Indigenous representatives. The university will rely on this Council for assistance as we work through the report’s recommendations and as we begin to implement a new and more comprehensive approach to Indigenous identity that is fair and equitable.
As our Chancellor, the Honourable Murray Sinclair has rightly noted, there remains much to do but the process is now underway and I am confident that the dialogue that began on our campus will lead us to true and meaningful reconciliation.
Statement from Chancellor Murray Sinclair:
Over the past year, following the concerns raised in the community about the lack of adequate processes around Indigenous identity and Indigeneity of staff and faculty, Queen’s University has undergone an internal review process.
The report published today following the consultation by First Peoples Group is one step of many to rectify the impacts caused by past processes and systems. Queen’s University— along with all universities and colleges across Turtle Island— must now take significant steps to demonstrate their commitment to reconciliation.
The announcement of the creation of the Indigenous Oversight Council is a move towards a process of confirming Indigenous citizenship that no longer relies solely on self-identification. As I have noted before, self-declaration is an important part of Indigenous identity – but it has proved insufficient in creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive community for Indigenous faculty, staff, and students at Queen’s.
At the same time, it is not the role of a colonial institution like Queen’s to determine who is or is not Indigenous. To that end, the Indigenous Oversight Council provides an avenue through which we can build an Indigenous-led approach to confirming the citizenship and identity of faculty and staff at Queen’s.
These challenges do not start and end simply with hiring processes. Reflecting on the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Queen’s must develop curricula and programming that teaches and centres Indigenous knowledge, traditions, cultures, and histories. All students who come to Queen’s must engage with Indigenous knowledge and experiences, and there is a role to play for Indigenous and settler scholars alike at Queen’s in our work on reconciliation.
In my time at Queen’s, I have seen the strength of the Indigenous leadership and community. I feel confident that the creation of the new Council and the acceptance by the leadership at Queen’s of this report gives us a pathway forward. It is crucial that this work centres the Peoples of this land with community representation from Alderville First Nation, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg as representatives of the Anishinaabek; Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and Mohawks of Akwesasne as representatives of the Haudenosaunee and Wendake of the Huron-Wendat Nation.
There is much work to do, and these challenges will not be overcome with a single action, but each step moves us along the path towards reconciliation.
The full report can be accessed on the Office of Indigenous Initiatives website.