This month, the University of Guelph is proud to commemorate National Indigenous History Month. It is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Indigenous peoples and the richness of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures. On June 21, we will also recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, which coincides with the summer solstice and holds great significance for many Indigenous cultures.
For the first time, we have embedded our commitment to Indigenization in the University’s new strategic plan Our Time. The renewal of our strategy is designed to have a real and measurable impact on Indigenization and equity, diversity and inclusion. Together, we will achieve our vision by transforming our services and systems and fostering equitable learning and work environments. We will collaborate with Indigenous communities to advance truth and reconciliation.
It is essential that we deepen our understanding of the diversity of Indigenous peoples and cultures in our region and across the country. As we express our commitment to learning, listening, and celebrating Indigenous voices, we also reflect on how we must address the systemic discrimination and inequity experienced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and make good on our commitments to work toward decolonization.
U of G acknowledges its immense role in and responsibility for reconciliation and continues to work on the commitments outlined in Bi-Naagwad, our Indigenous Initiatives Strategy. To help ensure Indigenous representation in our governance structures, we recently established two elected senate seats for First Nations, Inuit or Métis students, and one for a First Nations, Inuit or Métis faculty member. We also recently launched our Black and Indigenous hiring initiative to help ensure representation in teaching and learning. Under this initiative, at least 15 Black and Indigenous faculty and four or more Black and Indigenous professional staff will be hired across the University by 2025.
To celebrate National Indigenous History Month, we recognize the many outstanding contributions by U of G faculty, staff and students. A few examples of the collaborative research and teaching happening at U of G are:
- Bringing Indigenous communities, leaders and scholars together to support Indigenous-led conservation across Canada
- Applying an Indigenous lens to brain research
- Restoring Indigenous knowledge, visibility and character to the Greenbelt as an important Indigenous cultural landscape
- Integrating Indigenous relational worldviews with government environmental monitoring and health risk assessment approaches
- Incorporating Indigenous perspectives into early childhood studies
In celebration of National Indigenous History Month, we encourage you to learn more about First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and cultures —a great place to begin is with the McLaughlin Library’s online collection that explores the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous writers, content and research. We also encourage you to take the time to reflect on your role in reconciliation and the actions you can take during National Indigenous History Month and throughout the year.
Charlotte Yates, President and Vice-Chancellor
Cara Wehkamp, Assistant Vice-President (Indigenous Initiatives)