Indigenization at Waterloo

Indigenization is a major topic of discussion at universities across the country and Waterloo is no exception. 

What you need to know

  • The traditional territory we’re on. The University of Waterloo (including the Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses) is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and is the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples. Six Nations is the largest reserve in Canada and is just 60 km from the University. (Here’s why we think you need to know this.)
  • What the University is doing. Waterloo began work on an Indigenization Strategy in 2017. Five working groups drafted recommendations, which will be considered and developed into an Indigenization Strategy by a Director of Indigenous Initiatives once that position is filled.
  • What FAUW is doing. The goal of our Indigenization working group (also started in 2017) is to help faculty members take action. We’re working on self-education, relationship building, and blog posts, and are in the early stages of event planning. This group is always open to new members. We are also running a monthly reading circle on Indigenization at universities. Contact Laura McDonald if you’re interested in joining either group.
  • There are Indigenous people at Waterloo. As of 2017, there were approximately 135 self-declared First Nations, Inuit, or Métis (FNIM) students at Waterloo and 38 employees, including some faculty.

Where to find information

What’s happening at Waterloo

What's happening at other universities and elsewhere

Who to talk to

  • To hire an Indigenous student as a research assistant, contact Cheryl Maksymyk at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.

  • To provide input on the Indigenization Strategy, talk to a steering committee or working group member.

  • For support with your own efforts at Indigenization and decolonization, or to share what you’re already doing, contact a member of the FAUW Indigenization Working Group.

  • Indigenous faculty can connect with Lori Campbell, director of the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.

Please note that, at this time, there isn’t anyone employed by the University to help faculty with Indigenizing their courses and curricula, and the Indigenous Student Centre doesn't have the capacity to support non-Indigenous faculty in doing so. If you would be interested in access to such a resource, please let us (or the University) know.

What you can do

Here's what non-Indigenous faculty can do to learn more, raise awareness, and support your Indigenous students, colleagues, and community members:

What is Indigenization?

The authors of "Reconciliation within the Academy: Why is Indigenization so Difficult?" (PDF) put it this way:

"Indigenization is the process of creating a supportive and comfortable space inside our institutions within which Indigenous people can succeed."

Camosun College's Indigenization plan (PDF) provides this definition:

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

Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenze argue that the word is used in three distinct ways:

Indigenous inclusion is about "increasing the number of Indigenous students, faculty, and staff in the Canadian academy....largely by supporting the adaption of Indigenous people to the current (often alienating) culture of the Canadian academy."

Reconciliation indigenization "locates indigenization on common ground between Indigenous and Canadian ideals, creating a new, broader consensus on debates such as what counts as knowledge."

Decolonial indigenization "envisions the wholesale overhaul of the academy to fundamentally reorient knowledge production based on balancing power relations between Indigenous peoples and Canadians."

Key links

FAUW Indigenization mailing list

Join for updates on FAUW and other Indigenization news and events: