It’s been more than three years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission–chaired by the Honourable Senator Murray Sinclair–released its final report and calls to action. That was the first step in a long journey of healing and, as Senator Sinclair said, “Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships. There are no shortcuts.”
At Carleton, we are building on a solid foundation, including the fantastic work of our Ojigkwanong Centre and Centre for Indigenous Initiatives, the Indigenous Education Council (IEC), the new Collaborative Indigenous Learning Bundles, and an array of courses and research initiatives.
Earlier this fall, following our first IEC meeting of the year, I was so pleased to announce that Carleton is convening a broad and inclusive committee to revitalize our Indigenous strategy and re-energize our relationships with Indigenous communities in the region and across the country.
The newly formed Carleton University Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Committee (CUISIC), co-chaired by Kahente Horn-Miller, Benny Michaud and Jerry Tomberlin will soon begin its work. The co-chairs are emphasizing that we are going “from strength to strength.”
An integral part of this process will be broad consultations and it is so important that we all take part in these important discussions, which will start in the new year. Momentum is already building and I was pleased that at its November meeting, our Board of Governors unanimously passed a motion of support for the committee and its work.
I’ve been so fortunate in my own life to learn difficult truths about our shared past from remarkable Indigenous thought leaders including Marlene Brant-Castellano, Kanonhsyonne Jan Hill and, more recently, Barbara Dumont-Hill. Their resilience, patience and wisdom in the face of prejudice and carelessness have been boundless.
It is absolutely essential that we all come together towards positive, long-lasting change in our relationships with Indigenous peoples on campus, in the Ottawa area, and nationally. I look forward to receiving the recommendations of the committee, and to work with our entire community towards rapid and purposeful implementation.
The only way to make any progress is to meet each other as human beings, to listen in order to understand rather than to convince, and to consider the consequences that our actions, or inaction, will have on our shared future to the seventh generation.