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

  • Whose territory we’re on: The Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses of the University of Waterloo are situated on the Haldimand Tract, land that was promised to the Haudenosaunee of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and are within the territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, 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 you need to know this.)
  • What the University is doing: Jean Becker started as Waterloo's first Senior Director, Indigenous Initiatives in January 2020. The University began work on an Indigenization Strategy in 2017, which resulted in recommendations from five working groups. The Indigenization Strategy was on hold during the hiring process for the Senior Director position. 
  • What FAUW is doing: The goal of our Indigenization working group (started in 2017) is to help faculty members better understand and participate in Indigenization efforts. We run a monthly reading circle and are developing other events and resources. Contact Laura McDonald if you’re interested in joining (or sign up for our mailing list in the sidebar).
  • There are Indigenous faculty, staff, and students 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

Indigenization and resources at Waterloo

Indigenization at other universities and elsewhere

Who to talk to about Indigenization 

  • To learn about or participate in the University's Indigenous Initiatives Office and Indigenous Initiatives strategic plan, contact Jean Becker, Senior Director, Indigenous Initiatives.
  • Indigenous faculty and students can connect with Lori Campbell, director of the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.
  • To hire an Indigenous student as a research assistant, contact Cheryl Maksymyk at the Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre.

  • 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.

Respecting Indigenous people's time

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre and the Indigenous Students Association are resources for Indigenous students. They, unfortunately, don't have the capacity to support non-Indigenous faculty with Indigenizing their courses, or to help a lot of students with their projects or research. Indigenous faculty receive a lot of requests for help, but have their own research and teaching to focus on as well. 

What you can do to avoid over-burdening Indigenous members of the academic community:

  • Tell the University you'd like to see an Indigenous curriculum advisor at Waterloo—a role that exists at other universities.

  • 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.)

  • Join our Reading Circle and Indigenization mailing list (in the sidebar) to discuss these issues with your colleagues (and to find out about our upcoming workshops).

  • Provide meaningful opportunities for Indigenous faculty and students that feature and advance their own work and learning, not just yours.

The role of non-Indigenous faculty in Indigenization

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:

Key links

FAUW Indigenization mailing list

Indigenization news and events from FAUW and elsewhere.

What is Indigenization?

Camosun College's 2013 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.”

Also see: Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy (Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenz) for a great explanation of how people mean different things when they say "Indigenization."