Indigenization and reconciliation at Waterloo

Indigenization is an important initiative at universities across the country and Waterloo is no exception. This page provides some basic information; we encourage you to visit the Office of Indigenous Relations' website for more!

Indigenization is the process by which Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing and relating are incorporated into educational, organizational, cultural and social structures.

Indigenization is a three-part spectrum. On one end is Indigenous inclusion, in the middle reconciliation indigenization, and on the other end decolonial indigenization

What the University is doing

The University began work on an Indigenization Strategy in 2017, which resulted in recommendations from five working groups. Jean Becker started as Waterloo's first Senior Director, Indigenous Initiatives in January 2020 and as of October 2021 is Associate Vice President, Indigenous Relations. The Office of Indigenous Relations is currently working on a campus-wide Indigenous Initiatives strategy.

What FAUW is doing

FAUW's Indigenization Working Group started in 2017 to support faculty wanting to explore Indigenization, and advocated for changes at the University of Waterloo to improve the experiences of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students. It hosted a reading circle and workshops, and is currently inactive, having stepped back to allow the Indigenous-led work on campus to take the lead.

FAUW funds scholarships for University of Waterloo students from Six Nations of the Grand River through the Grand River Post-Secondary Education Office (GRPSEO), and we maintain a listserv for faculty and others to share related news and events with each other. Sign up here:

Territorial acknowledgement

The Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses of the University of Waterloo are situated on the Haldimand Tract, land that was granted to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River. These campuses are within the territory of Indigenous peoples who have historically lived and who currently live in this territory. These groups include the Neutral, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples. The Stratford campus is on the territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and Ojibway/Chippewa peoples; this territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. Six Nations is the largest reserve in Canada and is just 60 km from the University.

Here’s why we think this is important.

Where to find information

Resources at Waterloo

Other universities and elsewhere

Who to talk to

  • To learn about the University's Office of Indigenous Relations, contact Robin Stadelbauer, Associate Director, Indigenous Relations.
  • Indigenous faculty and students can also connect with the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC).
  • For help with course or curriculum development, contact Leslie Wexler, CTE's Senior Educational Developer, Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-racist Pedagogies.
  • For research help, contact Sara Anderson at the Office of Research.

The role of non-Indigenous faculty

There are no quick fixes. You'll need to put in the long, slow work of learning and building relationships. Here's what non-Indigenous faculty can do to learn more, raise awareness, and support your Indigenous students, colleagues, and community members.

Self-directed learning

It’s normal to be uncomfortable and unsure—and wise not to be overconfident—at this stage. It's important to listen and learn, without overburdening Indigenous people or expecting them to educate you. There are a lot of resources out there to help you educate yourself about both the history of colonization in Canada and its ongoing impacts on Indigenous communities and individuals.

Respect Indigenous people's time while you're learning: Indigenous faculty receive a lot of requests for help, but have their own research and teaching to focus on as well. To avoid over-burdening Indigenous members of the academic community:

  • Direct students to conduct research on their own. It’s a better (and more respectful) use of everyone’s time for them to get their first-hand Indigenous perspectives from the plethora of existing sources rather than one-on-one interviews. (Read Craig Fortier’s blog post on how to avoid burdening marginalized people and social movement organizers.)
  • Provide meaningful opportunities for Indigenous faculty and students that feature and advance their own work and learning, not just yours.

Attend an event

Attend events hosted by the Office of Indigenous Relations and the Faculty of Arts' Indigenous Speaker Series.

Consult a map

Learn about Indigenous people in this area, and get into the habit of looking up whose territory you're visiting when you travel. Here are some resources:

Take a course

Raise awareness

Consider acknowledging the traditional caretakers of the area when writing a syllabus, starting a class, or welcoming researchers—or when you’re giving a talk elsewhere. The Canadian Association of University Teachers provides this information for universities across Canada. (If you suspect that this is a complicated practice, you’re right, and you might want to check out this blog post: Beyond Territorial Acknowledgements.

Assign readings by Indigenous authors to expose students to one or more Indigenous perspectives (this applies in any field; there are Indigenous researchers in all disciplines). If you invite an Indigenous speaker to your class, be sure to compensate them for their time.

Provide support

  • Attend, promote, and volunteer at events and initiatives happening on campus, such as the Indigenous Speaker Series or Pow Wow.
  • Consider volunteering to serve a soup lunch at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre with your department or a group of colleagues.
  • Publicly show your support for initiatives and changes that the Indigenous communities on and around campus are asking for.
  • Recognize that Indigenous faculty don't work only on Indigenous-related research. Support and promote Indigenous faculty members' work in all areas.
  • Read Lynn Gehl’s Ally Bill of Responsibilities for guidance.