From the Office of the SSMU Vice-President (University Affairs)
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 514-398-6797
Between March 14 and 24, 2016, the SSMU Indigenous Affairs portfolio hosted Indigeneity and Allyship 2016, an event series examining the experiences of Indigenous peoples at McGill University and beyond. Drawing from numerous panel events, workshops, and speakers, the resulting report discusses the negative impacts that the McGill environment has on Indigenous students. Issues include underrepresentation in the university population, physical space, and curriculum; daily racism and tokenism; insufficient support resources at all levels; and the lack of an institutional commitment to decolonization. At the same time, the report stresses the importance of existing campus support networks for student success and outlines a number of recommendations to improve the Indigenous student experience at McGill.
In line with the recently adopted Indigenous Solidarity Policy (http://ssmu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SSMU-Indigenous-Solidarity-Policy-2016-04-07.pdf), the SSMU recognizes the historical and ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples both on-campus and in society-at-large, and is committed to advocating for the issues and priorities identified by our Indigenous students, staff, and community members. McGill University has historically failed to acknowledge and address its colonial context, and while we are encouraged by the recent openness of the administration to make improvements in this area, we remain concerned that this will not involve an honest assessment of present realities or a substantive commitment to reconciliation.
As the university leadership prepares to move forward with a new Indigenous Education Taskforce, partly in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action (http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf), it is essential that they listen seriously to the concerns outlined in this report and respond in meaningful ways. In particular, they must develop a framework for proactive consultation and engagement with Indigenous community members; actively sensitize the McGill population to Indigenous presence, histories, and experiences; improve support resources for Indigenous students and staff; and expand Indigenous teaching, research, and representation. These measures will be necessary to any successful Indigenization plan for McGill University.
SSMU Vice-President (University Affairs)
Read the full report here (link).