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Indigenization objectives added to Arts Strategic Plan

Friday, September 29, 2017

With unanimous approval by Arts Faculty Council, the Faculty of Arts Strategic Plan 2014-19 has been amended to include objectives focused on indigenization in our teaching, research, and outreach. The objectives and actions are part of a growing commitment by this Faculty, and by other areas of the University of Waterloo, along with many post-secondary institutions in the country, to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 2015 final report, specifically the Calls to Action.

The new and revised sections of the Arts Strategic Plan appear under four of the six strategic priority areas:

Priority 1 - Enriching the undergraduate student experience

Action added: Identify and support opportunities for Indigenous teaching and learning across the curriculum.

Priority 2 - Recruiting and supporting strong graduate students

Action added: Explore strategies to increase the recruitment and success of Indigenous graduate students. 

Priority 3 - Enabling research opportunity and impact

Action revised: Review current practices and procedures to identify ways in which interdisciplinary research can be better supported, including support for Indigenous research based on equitable partnerships with Indigenous scholars and communities.

Priority 5 - Increasing outreach and visibility (communications)

Action added: Emphasize communication of Indigenous scholarship, teaching, learning, and outreach in the University of Waterloo community; build awareness of Faculty of Arts opportunities to address the Calls to Action expressed in the report of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its report after the Faculty of Arts undertook its initial strategic planning process in 2012,” said Tim Kenyon, Associate Dean, Research.

“These revisions to our Plan reflect the Faculty’s recognition of the moral, epistemic, and educational imperatives raised by the Commission’s Calls to Action.”

Current indigenization initiatives on campus include territorial acknowledgement of the land on which this institution sits and we as individuals live and work. The acknowledgement increasingly appears on our websites, syllabi, and in the opening remarks for courses and campus events.

In winter 2017 the Indigenous Speakers Series was launched by the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre (WAEC, based at St. Paul’s University College) in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts. The series highlights the voices of Indigenous artists, writers, activists, and leaders, offering students, faculty and staff opportunities to learn from, understand, and engage with Indigenous issues. This fall’s series features writer and publisher Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm in October and filmmaker Maria Clements in November.

In addition, WAEC collaborates more and more with various UWaterloo central units to host high profile Indigenous speakers and activists including Cindy Blackstock, Roberta Jamieson, and Jesse Wente.

This fall UWaterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo Public Library and the City of Waterloo are co-sponsoring the Canada 150 Lecture Series, of which two of the three panels will address reconciliation from different perspectives including the role of post-secondary institutions.

Beyond speaker events, which help to create cross-cultural understanding, indigenization is increasingly finding its way into research and teaching, which our Strategic Plan amendments seek to build-upon. Along with past and in-progress projects by members of Arts and across campus (often in collaboration with WAEC), recent actions toward indigenization include:

If students, faculty, or staff are involved in any indigenization initiatives, please let us know about it (see Priority 5 above): contact Wendy Philpott, Arts communications manager.

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