Dialogues on Indigeneity at Queen's University

Last year, we began the important work of critically reviewing our current practices, policies, and procedures by engaging in dialogues on Indigeneity. In Fall 2021, we asked First Peoples Group, led by Guy Freedman and Lynne Toupin, to facilitate Indigenous-only dialogue sessions with staff, faculty, community members, and others.

It has been critical for us to ensure the Indigenous community is centered in this process to guide conversations around Indigeneity. Throughout this dialogue, we were committed to creating appropriate spaces in which hundreds of Indigenous members of the Queen’s community could engage in thoughtful and candid discussions.

First Peoples Group has now collected the thoughts and recommendations that resulted from this consultative process and developed a report that will help our institution move forward in a respectful and productive way, one that will help us reaffirm our commitment to Reconciliation.  

 Download Final Report here (PDF - 8.6 MB)

Statement on Interim Hiring Policy for Indigenous-specific Positions, March 24, 2023

Over the past year, Queen’s University has been reviewing and re-evaluating its hiring policies, procedures, and practices related to Indigenous identity. Following the July 2022 release of the Queen’s University Indigenous Identity Project Final Report: ‘Gii-Ikidonaaniwan’ • ‘It has been said’ from First Peoples Group, Queen’s accepted the findings of the report in principle and is implementing one of the report’s recommendations to create an Indigenous Oversight Council. 

The Indigenous Oversight Council will guide the University by reviewing policies and procedures for the verification of Indigenous identity, and making recommendations about these as appropriate. It will comprise respected Indigenous representatives from Queen’s University, local First Nations, Métis, and Inuit leadership or their delegates. 

Appointments to this Council are currently underway; in the meantime, Queen’s University has developed an Interim Policy for Hiring of Indigenous-Specific Positions. 

The University’s Interim Policy is based upon current best practices and involves ensuring rigorous review of appropriate documentation to verify the identity and lived experience of applicants who identify as Indigenous persons. 

The University’s Interim Policy will be reviewed by the Indigenous Oversight Council, once operational, for their advice and guidance. The Council will advise the university if revisions to the Interim policy are recommended. The Policy will not be retroactively applied to existing staff or faculty.

As a university, we are committed to our role in reconciliation, and are determined to be transparent and open through this process. To that end, we will continue to provide updates on the Office of Indigenous Initiatives website here. 

Update November 28, 2022 

Queen’s University is currently reviewing and reevaluating its policies, procedures and practices related to Indigenous identity, including its hiring practices, and engagement with Indigenous peoples. On July 7th, 2022, First Peoples Group (FPG) released their report titled ‘Gii-Ikidonaaniwan’ • ‘It Has Been Said’ which recommended that Queen’s University along with First Nations in the territory, create a joint  committee to address issues regarding Indigenous identity at the university. In response, Queen’s University has committed to developing an Indigenous Oversight Council to oversee and lead this important work. 

The Indigenous Oversight Council will be tasked with recommending policy and procedures for the verification of Indigenous identity. Additionally, they will be tasked with reviewing the recommendations of the FPG Report and advising on any implementation. 
Since the release of the report the Office of Indigenous Initiatives has consulted widely including engaging the advice and expertise of Chancellor Murray Sinclair and has initiated conversations with Indigenous leadership about participation on the Indigenous Oversight Council.  
Terms of Reference for the Indigenous Oversight Council are close to completion and will be reviewed and approved by appropriate bodies within the university.

Additionally, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives has solicited feedback to the report from Indigenous staff and faculty at Queen’s. The Office of Indigenous Initiatives has met with individuals who wished to express their views on the report and will use this feedback to help guide the university’s efforts going forward. Individuals wishing to provide feedback may still do so by booking a meeting through the office (indigenous.initatives@queensu.ca) or may also provide written feedback if preferred.  


Principal 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. 

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. 

Update May 26, 2022

Response to Questions re: Report Release

The Dialogues on Indigeneity are continuing. As a university that values equity and inclusivity, it is our intention to be transparent and open through this process.

Although we initially anticipated the report on these dialogues to be released in May 2022, it is important to the Office of Indigenous Initiatives that the process be as thorough and inclusive as possible. We are taking into account the perspectives shared by Indigenous academics and scholars at the National Indigenous Identity Forum hosted by First Nations University in March, and hope to incorporate their crucial reflections and insights.  

In addition, First Peoples Group has continued to hold conversations with Indigenous students, staff, faculty, Elders, and community partners, and we will announce the release of this comprehensive report at a later date once these dialogues are complete. 

Upon receiving the report, an Indigenous-led team will review it and advise the university’s administration on the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Update March 18, 2022

We are continuing the important work at Queen’s University of engaging in dialogues on Indigeneity and Indigenous citizenship with students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community collaborators.

To date, we have completed 17 group sessions and 13 individual sessions, and will be completing the dialogue process this week. At this time, registration for participating in the dialogue process is closed, and we sincerely thank all those who took the time to share their thoughtful feedback. 

First Peoples Group, the facilitators of these Indigenous-only discussions, is collecting the thoughts and recommendations that result from this consultative process to develop a report that will help our institution move forward in a respectful, productive way. We anticipate being able to publicly announce this report in May 2022.

As we move forward with this work, we remain committed to ensuring the Indigenous community continues to be centered, creating appropriate spaces in which Indigenous members of the Queen’s community can engage in respectful, open, and productive discussion.

Update January 18, 2022

Dialogue sessions have now been scheduled and invitations issued to Indigenous Faculty, Staff, and Students over the months of January and early February. Invitation lists are currently being compiled and dates established for sessions with Indigenous alumni as well as community partners and collaborators. A specific session is being booked with the Indigenous Caucus as well as the FEAS Circle of Advisors. Most invitations include an option to participate in a group session or to book a private 1:1 session with the facilitators. 

Updated communications are currently under development for the webpage as well as an encouragement for any Indigenous faculty members who may have been missed but are interested in participating in an additional dialogue on January 28, 2022 to be in touch with FPG at info@firstpeoplesgroup.com or the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at indigenous.initiatives@queensu.ca 

Update, December 7th, 2021

Engagement Plan Update

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII) at Queen’s University and First Peoples Group, an Indigenous-led consulting firm, are working together to organize a series of dialogues with Indigenous participants about the issue of Indigenous identity at Queen’s University. 

These conversations will take place in the form of several in-person and virtual engagement sessions with Indigenous students, staff, faculty, alumni, and with various Indigenous advisory groups at Queen’s and other partners and community collaborators. FPG is currently working closely with the OII to conduct the necessary outreach and extend invitations for these various sessions. An online survey is also being developed to solicit feedback from Indigenous students at Queen’s. 

Two sessions have already taken place: one with the Ontario Council of Universities’ Reference Group on Indigenous Education and one with the Queen’s Elders Advisory Circle. The other dialogues are currently being planned with the various groups of participants (as described above). They will take place between January and March 2022, with an expectation that a final report with recommendations will be delivered in the Spring of 2022. 

These dialogues are Indigenous-led and meant to provide a safe space that affirms Indigenous participants, builds on their knowledge and solicits their ideas and perspectives about the policies, processes and practices needed for vetting claims to Indigeneity particularly in recruitment and hiring practices, engagement with Indigenous communities, and investigating allegations of Indigenous identity fraud.

Additional dialogues will begin in early January and regular updates around schedules will be provided as they become available. If you are Indigenous and are interested in participating in an upcoming session once they are announced, please contact First Peoples Group at info@firstpeoplesgroup.com. The number of spaces for some sessions may be limited, however where and if possible, all requests will be accommodated.