UM to establish university-wide Indigenous leadership structure
Vice-President (Indigenous) position has been approved as first step
In February 2019, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Janice Ristock established a committee, chaired by Dr. Catherine Cook, Vice-Dean Indigenous, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, to assess the existing mandate and support structures for Indigenous senior leadership and provide recommendations going forward on the role and its mandate, appropriate reporting structures and units, and necessary supports.
The committee, which also included an Elder, Indigenous faculty, staff, students, and senior academic leadership, has concluded its work and presented its report, University of Manitoba Indigenous Senior Leadership: Report and Recommendations to the Provost and Vice-President (Academic).
“We are pleased to submit a document consistent with our analysis of the background material and the feedback from our stakeholders received from the consultation sessions, town halls, the web questionnaire and email feedback,” writes Dr. Cook in the introduction to the report. “The recommendations focus on the key themes of Leadership, Executive and Program teams, Faculty, Campus Community and Administrative Infrastructure at the University of Manitoba.”
The report sets out a series of recommendations for the development of a university-wide approach that advances the University of Manitoba’s commitment to Indigenous Engagement, promotes reconciliation and helps address anti-Indigenous racism. As the report indicates, addressing the foundation of the inequity of Indigenous Peoples that derives from the legacy of past colonization speaks to the Truth and Reconciliation’s 94 Calls to Action and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report’s 231 Calls for Justice.
There are five recommendations made in the report, including the establishment of a Vice-President (Indigenous), believed to be the first role of its kind among U15 universities. This position has been approved by the university’s Board of Governors as a first step in implementing the recommendations in the report. An interim Vice-President (Indigenous) will be appointed as soon as possible and will lead the implementation process.
“The five recommendations made in the report will help move us forward on a journey to achieving true and meaningful Indigenous Engagement,” said President David Barnard. “I strongly support the principles outlined in the recommendations and was pleased to be able to share with Senate today that we have the full support of the Board of Governors to move forward with this report. I look forward to working alongside a new Vice-President (Indigenous).”
“This document lays out a clear path for how the university can evolve its leadership structure and address key responsibilities that support our Indigenous Engagement goals,” said Dr. Ristock. “My colleagues on the executive team and other senior leaders are dedicated to working together with members of the Indigenous community at the University of Manitoba to ensure these recommendations are implemented within the suggested timeframes.”
The five recommendations outlined in the report are:
- Executive and Senior Leadership – Enhance capacity with a critical mass of Indigenous leadership with strong professional connections, supporting the role of Vice-President (Indigenous).
- Programmatic Leadership – Develop the required plan, relationships, resources and Indigenous Leaders, including a multilevel Reconciliation Action Plan that the university is transparently accountable to.
- Clarify Expectations and Responsibilities at the Faculty and Administrative Unit Levels in achieving equitable outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, responding to the TRC’s Calls to Action, and the university’s location on Indigenous homelands.
- Building a Campus Community – The pervasive and systemic anti-Indigenous racism in society and in the institution must be aggressively interrupted and addressed so that the campus community is physically and psychologically safe for Indigenous Peoples.
- Weave Us All Together – Governance and Administrative Infrastructure – In order to respond to the rights-based framework and imperatives behind the Strategic Plan and the recommended university-wide Reconciliation Action Plan, Indigenous self-determination and leadership must be embedded within the governance structures of the university.
“I want to acknowledge the outstanding work by Dr. Cook and the advisory committee, and thank all of those who contributed to the report,” added Dr. Barnard.
UM Today will continue to report on the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
I like the 5 recommendations. All are important. However, as we work to fulfill each of them, it is going to require a collective approach.