Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
I wanted to reiterate our commitment to the University of Waterloo’s efforts to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action. This is an important national issue in which the University of Waterloo must play an integral role by bringing new initiatives and by making meaningful changes on our campus to eliminate obstacles faced by, and amplify the perspectives of, our Indigenous students, faculty and staff.
As part of our work in advancing Indigenous initiatives at Waterloo, I am writing to share an update on our progress.
Creating Indigenous community connections
To gain further insight into the current challenges facing Indigenous students, I recently traveled to the Six Nations and Six Nations Polytechnic, along with Vice-President of University Relations, Sandra Banks and Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion, Diana Parry, at the invitation of Chief Ava Hill (also a member of the University’s Board of Governors) and the President of Six Nations Polytechnic Rebecca Jamieson.
We had a very productive conversation with Chief Hill, President Jamieson and other members of the Six Nations and Six Nations Polytechnic. We listened to their concerns and issues, but more importantly, their desire to establish long-term, respectful results-oriented relationships with the University.
We were also happy to accept Chief Hill’s invitation to hold the June 2019 meeting of the Board of Governors at the Gathering Place By the Grand on the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ohsweken, ON.
This is only the start of our conversation with local Indigenous community members as there is so much more we can learn from each other.
Indigenous leadership on campus
We continue with our efforts to hire a Senior Director of Indigenous Initiatives. As we are doing this, we are taking our time, making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and Indigenous communities are represented. We have hired Amik Inc.—an Indigenous owned and operated professional recruitment specialist—to assist with the efforts to hire the best person possible.
I initiated this hiring process upon completion of the Indigenization Strategy working groups in June 2018 that brought forward a number of recommendations of ways to advance Indigenous initiatives on campus. Upon receiving these recommendations, I consulted broadly on next steps before agreeing Waterloo needed Indigenous leadership to continue this work.
We have established a committee with representation from students, staff, faculty, the Indigenous Student Association and the Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre. The committee strikes a balance of those who self-identified as Indigenous with lived experience and others with knowledge of university systems and processes. In January, the committee met to discuss what perspectives and knowledge each member brings to the table, where each member is from and how this has informed their lived experience.
The committee also discussed the expectations and scope for the first one to three years of this position as this will help provide context during the hiring process. A final job description will be ready for publication in the near future.
Our committee is making strong progress and given the importance of this position to the University, we are taking the time to find and hire the best candidate.
Throughout our efforts to advance Indigenous initatives I have been encouraged by the passion that the University community has demonstrated on this issue and your desire to find out more about our progress.
In addition to the messages and articles in the Daily Bulletin, the office of the Associate Vice-President Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion has set up an Indigenization Updates mailing list for members of the campus community who wish to receive regular updates on the University’s Indigenous initiatives progress. I urge anyone interested in this important initiative to join the mailing list.
I would like to thank everyone who has shown an interest in our Indigenous initiatives and those of you who have provided your thoughts and expertise as we move forward. This is a vital process for our University and our community and I look forward to providing more updates in the future.
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Waterloo