Canadian post-secondary leaders consider next steps following summer institute on reconciliation

group photo
Perspectives in Reconciliation participants stand together at the Carcross Learning Centre, Yukon. (Photo: Alistair Maitland Photography)

WHITEHORSE—Presidents, vice-presidents and reconciliation leads from 31 colleges and universities have returned to their respective institutions across Canada with fresh perspectives on reconciliation, inspiration about what is possible and new relationships to support their journeys.

The inaugural summer institute Perspectives in Reconciliation took place across Yukon in Dawson City, Whitehorse and Carcross, from August 9 to 15 hosted by Yukon College, Vancouver Island University (VIU) and the McConnell Foundation, with support from Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada.

Daily sessions, facilitated by Dr. Robert Daum of the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University and Mathieya Alatini, former chief of the Kluane First Nation, explored ways to advance reconciliation through various aspects of post-secondary institutions — services and space, programs and research, and policy and governance.

Elder Randall Tetlichi
Elders Randall Tetlichi (above) and Elizabeth Moses (below) share knowledge with participants.  (Photo: Alistair Maitland Photography)

Encouraged and supported by Yukon First Nations Elders Angie Joseph-Rear, Randall Tetlichi, Elizabeth Moses and Philip Gatensby the post-secondary leaders shared experiences, challenges and best practices

Participants ended the week with several concrete next steps to enact meaningful change for their students, faculty and staff.

The Summer Institute was a wonderful and truly inspiring event, and Lakehead University was pleased to share diverse thoughts and experiences as we came together to be part of a deep and meaningful dialogue. The opportunity to think about context, and learn new ideas and best practices from so many of our post-secondary colleagues across Canada — all passionate about continuing to transform our campuses — has helped us to plan next steps to meet our university's strategic priorities related to Indigenization and reconciliation,” said Dr. Moira McPherson, president and vice chancellor of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


Elder Liz Moses
(Photo: Alistair Maitland Photography)

“Bow Valley College has a renewed commitment to reconciliation and will ensure all leaders have performance goals related to the important work of Indigenizing and de-colonizing our institution,” said Catherine Koch, vice president Learner Services and chief financial officer at Bow Valley College in Calgary, Alberta.

“We are inspired and deeply moved by the voices and actions shared by colleagues from post-secondary institutions from across Canada. Our primary goal following this week of interaction is to explore and advocate for our university to create a senior level position to support Indigenous initiatives. While we all have a responsibility in this area, we do see the importance of having an Indigenous leader in this position to help guide and lead our individual and collective efforts towards reconciliation,” said Dr. Sandy Vanderburgh, provost and vice president academic, and Dr. Steve Cardwell, associate vice president academic, at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Metro Vancouver, B.C.

Yukon College, VIU and McConnell Foundation are now reviewing participant feedback and considering ways to support participating institutions going forward, as well as the potential of a second summer institute in 2020 or 2021.

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