The format of this year’s forum—māmowi āsohtētān: Let’s Cross This Together—is interactive and dialogue-focused. Educational Policy and Racism, Ethical Space, Indigenous Wellness, and ReconciliACTION will be some of this year’s themes.
“There is opportunity to increase awareness around protocols for community engagement, share experiences—positive or negative—and contribute to individual and collective healing and learning,” said Vice-Provost of Indigenous Engagement Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann (PhD), who will host the forum. “Discussions will also take place around identifying any university policies, procedures and practices that present barriers to reconciliation and decolonization.”
There are many initiatives underway at USask in the areas of Indigenization, decolonization and reconciliACTION. The languages, concepts and spirit woven into University Plan 2025 were shaped by the university’s relationships with Indigenous communities. Ideas continue to be drawn from wisdom, knowledges, cultures, traditions, histories, lived experiences and stories of Indigenous peoples. The university community is focused on embracing manachitowin (respecting one another) through active communications and is taking an integrated approach to respectful and constructive engagement.
Following the release of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2015, USask hosted the first national reconciliation forum on the Saskatoon campus and at Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
The event engaged in thoughtful discussions on how the USask community could move forward on the calls to action and what ongoing work needed to be done with universities across Canada.
In 2017, USask hosted its first internal forum designed to have the university community reflect on the work that was happening locally and nationally and to consider what was still needed to undertake Indigenization and reconciliation on campus. A commitment came from that forum to host an internal event each year.
This year’s forum is an opportunity for organizers and attendees of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures to be inspired and seek deeper relationships, greater awareness and mutual understanding. Working together to create an inclusive and welcoming culture can also lead to systemic transformation.
This year’s guest speakers will include USask President Peter Stoicheff and Provost Tony Vannelli, along with The Honourable Russ Mirasty, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, University of Calgary Professor Kathleen Mahoney, Assistant Professor Willie Ermine of First Nations University of Canada, and Phil Fontaine, former Chief of Assembly of First Nations.
“We are humbled to have the opportunity to bring in these speakers for the forum,” said Matt Dunn, Indigenization and reconciliation co-ordinator and this year’s forum committee chair. “One of our goals is that participants become empowered and garner resources and tools to help them take action on reconciliation and Indigenization in their own lives.”