Justice Sinclair to address U of S national PSE forum

SASKATOON - University of Saskatchewan (U of S) President Peter Stoicheff and Chancellor Blaine Favel will co-host a first-of-its-kind national forum Nov. 18-19 that will bring together university presidents and Aboriginal leaders to examine how universities can respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action for post-secondary education.

While some sessions—on topics such as research, teaching and learning and governance structures—will be solely for the 180 invited participants from across Canada, media are invited to attend the plenary session, which will be followed by an opportunity to interview key speakers:

When: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 8:30 am to 10 am
Where: Marquis Hall, U of S campus

Following the plenary, speakers will be available for interviews from 10-10:30 am in the Exeter Room at Marquis Hall:

  • Justice Murray Sinclair, Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
  • Jackson Lafferty, Deputy Premier of the Northwest Territories
  • Blaine Favel, Chancellor of the U of S
  • Peter Stoicheff, President of the U of S
  • Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
  • Robert Doucette, President of the Métis Nation Saskatchewan
  • Jack Saddleback, President of the U of S Students' Union

A video message will be provided by Carolyn Bennett, Canada's new Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The plenary session will also be live-streamed from the www.usask.ca/trc2015 webpage.

At the conclusion of the forum on Thursday, Nov. 19, Chancellor Favel and President Stoicheff will be available from 1 pm to 1:30 pm at Wanuskewin Heritage Park for brief in-person or phone interviews.

Context: The national forum, co-chaired by U of S professors Maggie Kovach and Keith Carlson, is the first in a series of consultative initiatives the U of S is undertaking on how to make the university a place where Aboriginal students, faculty, and staff succeed and excel. Informed by these national-level discussions, campus events will be held in the new year at which faculty, staff and students can engage in discussions on how to move forward.

Other related story opportunities:

Students Bearing Witness

In the Aboriginal tradition of witnessing an event of historic significance, 20 U of S Aboriginal students will serve as witnesses to the sessions, becoming the living record of the proceedings to carry forward what they have learned. An interview with a student witness can be arranged upon request.

"The Pass System" Film Screening: Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 pm in Physics Room 107

This 51-minute documentary by nationally respected filmmaker Alex Williams explores the history of a relatively unknown chapter in Canada's colonial history—that of the infamous "pass system" that prevented First Nations from leaving their reserves without government permission following the 1885 Rebellion/Resistance. Narrated by Cree actor Tantoo Cardinal, the film features U of S professor Winona Wheeler and professor emeritus Jim Miller, along with elders from several Saskatchewan communities who lived with the pass system and who continue to live with its legacies. Following the film, there will be a roundtable discussion led by U of S faculty members Wheeler and Carlson. Interviews can be arranged upon request.

"The Child Taken: Commemorating Indian Residential Schools" Art Display

During the forum, student art work will be on display from The Child Taken initiative, a partnership among the Saskatoon Tribal Council, the U of S Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, and the U of S art and art history department to educate Canadians about the impact of residential schools. A portfolio of the artwork has been accepted by the TRC as part of a national archive containing symbols of reconciliation. Interviews can be arranged upon request with Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas, U of S art professor Susan Shantz, and student artists.

For more information, please visit http://www.usask.ca/trc2015 or contact:

James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan


"Building Reconciliation" U of S National Forum: Universities answering the TRC Calls to Action

In the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action earlier this year, universities across the country are examining how they can make changes within the core of their institutions, engage more effectively with indigenous communities, and become leaders and partners in building reconciliation.

Canada's universities have adopted a set of principles outlining their "shared commitment" to enhancing educational opportunities for indigenous students. The 13 principles are here: http://www.univcan.ca/media-room/media-releases/universities-canada-principles-on-indigenous-education/

Across Canada, fewer than 10 per cent of indigenous people in the country have a university degree—about one-third the national rate of around 27 per cent.

With one of the highest Aboriginal student populations in the country and situated on Treaty 6 territory and the Métis homeland, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) is committed to helping lead meaningful change.

The forum will bring together 25 Aboriginal leaders and 14 presidents of post-secondary education institutions, as well as senior leaders from several more institutions, First Nations and Métis leaders, Aboriginal scholars and student leaders, and scholars dedicated to research that is meaningful to Aboriginal peoples. Informed by these national-level discussions, campus events will be held in 2016 at which faculty, staff and students can engage in discussions on how to move forward.

The U of S is committed to ensuring the success of Aboriginal faculty, staff and students. "Aboriginal Peoples: Engagement and Scholarship" is a U of S signature area that will be advanced by this forum.

U of S Aboriginal engagement by numbers:
  • Almost 2,500 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students during the 2014-15 academic year—10.5 per cent of the entire student body (12 per cent of undergraduates and six per cent of graduate students)
  • $1.1 million in scholarships and bursaries given to Aboriginal undergraduate students in 2014-15
  • 17 diverse programs with an Aboriginal focus
  • More than 30 Aboriginal faculty

Enhancing Aboriginal student success -- Gordon Oakes Redbear Student Centre

The Gordon Oakes Redbear Student Centre, designed by Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal, will house both the Aboriginal Students' Centre and the indigenous student leadership when completed early in 2016. The building is named after a man who made significant contributions to Saskatchewan throughout his life as a Treaty Elder and spiritual and community leader. The unique centre is envisaged as a gathering place that will bring together the teachings, traditions and culture of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples of Saskatchewan.

More information about the forum is available at: http://www.usask.ca/trc2015/

More information about the U of S Aboriginal initiatives is available at: http://aboriginal.usask.ca/
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