Implementing 34 calls to action for reconciliation at SFU

May 13, 2019

New policies regarding Indigenous art on campus, new courses that highlight Indigenous knowledge and culture, and staff training in Indigenous cultural safety. These are just some of the projects that SFU’s Reconciliation Working Group initiated in 2018 to begin implementing the 34 calls to action in the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s report, Walk This Path With Us.

The Reconciliation Working Group includes V-P Academic, Peter Keller, V-P External, Joanne Curry, Associate V-P External, Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan, and Ron Johnston, pro-tem director, Office for Aboriginal Peoples.

Projects begun in 2018 include:

Safe and Welcoming Spaces

  • Planning is under way to expand the SFU Indigenous Student Centre.
  • An Art Cluster Working Group that is informed and passionate about art and Indigenous representation has begun establishing the terms of reference for a new policy that will address how Indigenous art is included in every new building at SFU across all three campuses.
  • A First Peoples longhouse is under discussion.

Curriculum Innovation and Indigenization

  • Decolonizing Teaching

An integrated seminar series and a new Decolonizing and Indigenizing Grant Program is helping faculty learn how to identify colonialism in their disciplines and how to decolonize their teaching. The program has so far spawned six projects to deepen faculty participants' understanding of colonialism’s impact on Indigenous and settler peoples, and on Canadian society and its institutions. The seminar series program for faculty will continue in 2019/2020.

  • Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre

Planning has begun for a new Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre at the SFU Library that will include both physical and online spaces. This centre will include instructional guides for indigenizing curriculum, and recommend Indigenous course resources that focus on Indigenous authors and local First Nations.

  • San’Yas Cultural Safety Training

The university began offering this program to staff and faculty to increase foundational knowledge, self-awareness and skills with respect to Indigenous cultural safety.

Student Pathways and Support

  • The Interim Aboriginal University Preparation Program welcomed its second cohort of 16 students in fall 2018, and will welcome applications for a third cohort in fall 2019.
  • An Indigenous Pathways Planning Group was established to develop recommendations for re-imagined pathways and supports for Indigenous students. The group, co-chaired by education professor Michelle Pidgeon and Dean of Education Tania Bubela, includes representation from a variety of university faculties and departments, as well as the offices of the V-P Academic and the Registrar. The group will consult with local Indigenous communities to determine mutually agreed understandings and directions.
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