Affirming our commitment to Upholding Truth and Reconciliation

September 29, 2023

SFU’s bargaining team continues to be actively engaged in collective bargaining with the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU). 

We are following up on a TSSU comment shared in the open session of the SFU Board of Governors on Thursday, September 28, that the university has refused to sign off on a proposal to integrate Truth and Reconciliation into the SFU and TSSU labor relations going forward, through the collective agreement. 

The SFU bargaining committee would like to directly address these comments and note they are untrue. The university community, along with SFU’s leadership, continue to be wholly committed to upholding Truth and Reconciliation and fulfilling the calls to actions enshrined in the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s Walk this Path with Us report.

We also wish to share context and current status for the integration of language pertaining to Truth and Reconciliation (and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) during collective bargaining with TSSU: 

  • At the Monday, September 25th session, the SFU bargaining team proposed language to integrate SFU’s Indigeneity and Equity Diversity Inclusion commitments within the collective agreement in the morning. The university’s proposal referenced SFU's Equity Plan and Reconciliation plans. TSSU countered in the afternoon with a direct reference to the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action from the Walk this Path with Us report. The addition was welcomed by the SFU bargaining team, who took it away as per bargaining process to finalize/respond along with all other counter proposals offered by the TSSU. 
  • The university has been following through on integrating language pertaining to Indigeneity and Truth and Reconciliation in collective bargaining by vetting proposed language with subject matter experts before proceeding to sign off. This process for finalizing language and response to proposals at the TSSU bargaining table has not unfolded since the university is currently waiting for response on scheduling further bargaining sessions. For more information about the status of bargaining and outstanding bargaining issues, please see the latest update.

The university has been informed and been briefed about the negative repercussions that this allegation and related rumours has had on the Indigenous SFU community. The SFU bargaining committee is deeply saddened, especially as this comes during an emotionally laden time following the news from Stó:lō nation, leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and as our community prepares to host an honouring event for Phyllis Webstad. We acknowledge the emotional labour and institutional trust concerns this is causing for Indigenous students, faculty and staff. 

As the university works toward an agreement with TSSU within the province’s Shared Recovery Mandate, we wish to reassure you that our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation stands and our mandates from the University Administration are unchanged.