Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Presidents and reconciliation leads from 31 Canadian colleges and universities will come together in Yukon this week for the first time ever to focus on reconciliation.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has underscored the central responsibility of the education sector to reconcile relationships with Indigenous communities.
Yukon College, Vancouver Island University (VIU) and the McConnell Foundation, with support from Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada, will host the inaugural summer institute Perspectives on Reconciliation. The purpose is to support the Canadian post-secondary sector in advancing reconciliation.
The institute will help leaders identify and advance pathways for reconciliation, learn from one another’s lessons and best practices and take inspiration from each other’s reconciliation journeys with the goal of accelerating and scaling up these efforts.
“The hard work of reconciliation is now underway in Canada, and philanthropy has a responsibility to do its part,” Stephen Huddart, the foundation’s president and CEO, said this week.
“Reconciliation is particularly relevant to the post-secondary sector, where there are many opportunities to repair damage from the failed policies of the past and create a better future.
“The Yukon Summer Institute is a helpful step forward in achieving these goals.”
“The responsibility post-secondary institutions have on the reconciliation journey is complex,” said Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU’s president and vice-chancellor.
“Institutions need to look inward and critically examine how we support recognition and development of meaningful discourse on this important topic as well as play a leadership role in moving the conversation forward in the greater community.
“VIU has distinguished itself as a contributor to the reconciliation dialogue locally, regionally and nationally, and I’m looking forward to sharing our knowledge and learning from others to determine next steps in our journey.”
“Reconciliation in post-secondary must be authentic, thoughtful and meaningful,” said Karen Barnes, Yukon College’s president and vice-chancellor.
“It needs to be more than land acknowledgments, art on the wall, token conversations and increasing Indigenous enrolments.
“It is about shifting power within institutions, concrete changes in everything we do – from research and curriculum to outreach and governance – grounded in strong relationships and honest conversation with Indigenous partners,” Barnes added.
“We are honoured to create space for this sharing of knowledge and essential dialogue.”
The institute kicks off on Friday in Dawson City for two days with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
The action then shifts to Yukon College’s Ayamdigut campus in Whitehorse for three days.
It will then wrap up in the traditional territory of the Carcross-Tagish First Nation with a day of planning next steps, ceremony and feast.
Presidents and reconciliation leads from the participating institutions will explore ways to advance reconciliation through various aspects of their institutions: services and space, programs and research, and policy and governance.
By the close of their time in Yukon, it’s intended that participants become better equipped to assess their own reconciliation efforts and identify concrete next steps that will produce meaningful change.
“In heeding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, we recognize that reconciliation is a journey which involves a number of challenging conversations,” said Chad Lubelsky, the foundation’s program director.
“Our hope is that, through coming together at the Perspectives on Reconciliation summer institute, participants are able to build a network of support with allies at colleges and universities across Canada and lay the foundation for a nationwide community of practice.”
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