The Queen’s community has spoken clearly about its desire to build an inclusive and welcoming campus community. Two new reports are now available that highlight the progress made during the 2020-21 year toward the goals on equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigenization at Queen’s.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization Annual Report, 2020-21

TRC Task Force Implementation Report - Year Four

Commitment to EDII

The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization Annual Report underlines the commitment made by Queen’s Senior Administration in August 2020 to bolster an inclusive and anti-racist community through its support of the Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism. The commitment includes 11 areas of focus aimed at understanding and addressing systemic racism and exclusion on campus, strengthening support resources and policies, and closing representation gaps.

“Queen’s, like so many institutions across Canada, must come to terms with its colonial past and acknowledge that the lens we use to view our operations too often discounts those who may have been denied any voice in creating them,” Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane,  wrote in the introduction of the report. “And so, while we must continue working to address this challenge, I am pleased that we are making strides.”

The progress toward building a more diverse campus is highlighted in several key successes over the past year. In 2020, Queen’s hired women, racialized, and Indigenous faculty members at a rate that exceeded their workforce availability. In the 2020-21 academic year, students who identified as racialized or as having a disability had the highest undergraduate retention rates within the university, at 95.9 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

Additionally, Queen’s has continued to embed EDII and accessibility into its academic programs, such as the work underway to strengthen equity, diversity, inclusion, global engagement, and Indigenization in Queen’s Degree Level Expectations.

To gain a more robust understanding of the campus climate, the Student Experiences Survey was distributed to the campus community during the 2021 Winter Term. The survey is a wide-ranging initiative to understand systemic racism, exclusionary and discriminatory behaviours, and sexual violence on campus. Over 5,400 students responded to the questionnaire and reflected on their experiences over the previous year. The outcomes confirm that while Queen’s has made progress in many areas, there is still more to do.

Truth and Reconciliation Implementation Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Task Force Implementation Report – Year Four delivers an important update on Indigenization and reconciliation efforts at Queen’s amid the continued discovery of large, unmarked burial sites at former residential schools across Canada, as well as nationwide conversations around Indigenous identity.

“The importance of truth telling remains a vital tool for Indigenous peoples in regaining our power through our own stories and our own voices,” Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), wrote in the report. “Attentive listening is required to fully understand what is required for meaningful reconciliation to take place. Once again, I would like to encourage everyone to think deeply, be bold, and consider the inclusion of decolonizing and Indigenizing work within the curricula, within our governance systems, and within our work of breaking down barriers to access on many levels for Indigenous inclusion at Queen’s.”

The report reflects multiple advancements in relation to the original 25 recommendations from the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (TRCTF).  One recommendation was to increase access to Queen’s for Indigenous students. In 2020-21, first-year undergraduate enrolment of Indigenous students increased by 20 per cent, while the number of first-year undergraduate applications from self-identified Indigenous students increased by eight per cent.

During the 2021 academic year, there were 10 Elder meet-and-greets and education sessions. Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Rahswahérha Mark Green has led monthly Talking Circles with the Queen’s Indigenous community. This forum allows Indigenous students, faculty, and staff to gather as a community to support each other. The initiative aligns with the TRCTF’s recommendation to incorporate Indigenous languages and knowledge into the Queen’s ethos.

Indigenous-focused education and research are growing areas of strength for the university and a priority for continued growth. Work is underway in this area across faculties and schools to decolonize curricula and increase Indigenous-focused courses, which addresses TRCTF Recommendation 21.

The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) developed a case for support related to Indigenous initiatives across the university, including language and culture courses, writers in residence program in English, Indigenous Creative Writer in English Language and Literature, and establishing a pan-university Indigenous Community Research Fund.

Additionally, Indigenous legal issues are taught as components of the mandatory first-year program to all students. As part of the FAS Strategic Framework 2021-2026, the faculty will launch a second phase of its curricular reform that will focus more squarely on Indigenous law and Indigenous perspectives. The faculty is exploring innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities. Queen’s Law presently offers upper-year electives in Aboriginal Law, Aboriginal Child Welfare, and First Nations Negotiations.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning, a member of the Academic Diversity Sub-Council of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE), has been collaborating to introduce elements of the Queen’s Revised Learning Outcomes Framework in ways that facilitate instructors’ ability to identify meaningful learning outcomes related to both Indigenous content and Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. The Queen’s University Quality Assurance Processes (QUQAPS) and self-study templates are also being revised in ways to support programmatic changes toward Indigenization.

For more information and resources on EDII efforts at Queen’s, please visit the Inclusive Queen’s site.

Article originally published in the Queen's Gazette

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