Myeegun Henry

Myeengun Henry 
Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, Faculty of Health

Myeengun Henry is the Indigenous knowledge keeper with the Faculty of Health and a former Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. He has been instrumental in the recent push by the University of Waterloo to take up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action. As institutions of learning, universities have an important role to play to advance truth and reconciliation in society. In 2022, the University hosted a unique Commitment Ceremony, during which Vivek Goel, Waterloo’s president and vice-chancellor, officially committed to action to realize the aspirations of reconciliation and Indigenization.

“What we’re seeing at Waterloo right now is unprecedented,” Henry says. “It’s a big task to come to terms with the history of what’s happened to Indigenous communities. But we have the right people here, and I’m proud of the direction we are taking.” 

Henry points out that while Waterloo is a highly technical university, it has a unique opportunity to set itself on a path that marries technological progress with Indigenous understandings of stewardship for the land. Moreover, while those two may seem to be opposites, he says that the challenges the world faces today call for both approaches.

Henry also sees another twinned approach to change within the University, at both the top and the grassroots.

“How we build a healthy university is to make the change at the top, with governance and administration, and also in the grassroots, with curriculum and content in the classrooms,” he says. “It’s as much about what students are learning as it is about decisions made in the senate.”

While he is optimistic and sees much to celebrate in Waterloo’s approach to reconciliation, Henry also recognizes there are significant hurdles to overcome.

“The trust has to be earned. Whether that’s governments or other institutions, Indigenous people have good reason to be cynical. But what gives me hope is seeing the steps that Waterloo is taking. Next, we need to put the plans and the intentions into concrete action.”

Watch highlights from Waterloo's Commitment Ceremony