Truth & Reconciliation at McGill

52 Calls to Action in 5 Categories


Dancers at McGill'S PowWow 2022.

In 2017, McGill University's Provost Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education set out a series of Calls to Action they deemed essential to McGill's own project of recognition and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. This webpage is an interactive version of the 52 Calls to Action, and provides updates on their implementation. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), having published its final report in 2015, called on all Canadian institutions and citizens to “honour the past and reconcile the future,” with a view to confronting the profound harms inflicted on Indigenous peoples by Canada’s residential school system and its legacies. There is no question that the time has come for McGill to prioritize, in the most earnest and explicit way, Indigenous studies and Indigenous education. The importance of making good on these commitments cannot be overstated if we intend to live up to the duties incumbent upon us, and other universities across the country, to heed the TRC’s Calls to Action, recognizing and honouring our Indigenous community members and partners –past, present and future. The McGill community is ready, willing and able to take up this challenge, and indeed views reconciliation as an important opportunity to greatly enrich academia and uplift our whole society.


Explore the Calls to Action by Completion Status

Two women stand at the McGill PowWow 2022.                     McGill's Hiawatha Wampum Belt Flag raising, 2022.                          

                      In Progress                            Achievements                     Achieved & Further Expanded 


 Explore the Calls to Action by the Categories Below

1. Student Recruitment and Retention

Three smiling Indigenous students on McGill campus, with trees and a domed roof in the background

Increasing Indigenous students' access to education is a key part of reconciliation. Calls to Action 1-17 focus on increasing student recruitment and enrolment, outreach initiatives, financial aid, and student support on campus. 

Calls to Action 1-17

1. Target-Setting (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to establish specific Indigenous enrolment, retention and graduation targets at the undergraduate and graduate levels that are reasonable and that are nuanced by information regarding patterns of enrolment of Indigenous students at McGill (e.g., their greater likelihood to be part-time):

  • 1,000 Indigenous students enrolled at McGill by 2022 is an aspirational target;
  • Undergraduate completion of a degree up to 8 years (instead of 4 or 6);
  • In the 2022-23 academic year, 113 Indigenous students at McGill graduated. 

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

2. Funding (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to systematically identify and apply for more sources of external funding (federal, foundations, provincial) to fund more extensive support services for Indigenous students.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

3. Recruitment Officer Positions (Achieved & Further Expanded)

The Task Force calls on our University to fund a second Indigenous Recruitment Officer position to promote McGill University in a broader range of Indigenous communities and to support recruitment from any future pathway partnerships (immediate-term).

This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded.

4. Outreach to Community Services (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to collaborate with external services available to Indigenous students in Montreal to support recruitment and retention (e.g., Cree School Board office in Montreal).

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

5. Facilitating Access (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to expand access to McGill, learning from existing programs at Canadian postsecondary institutions:

  • Medium-term: Journey McGill/Parcours McGill: Finalize this bridging program to complement the existing undergraduate Indigenous admission protocol. This includes direct admission to the degree program;
  • Long-term: Establish explicit transition pathways between specific high schools – specific CEGEPs – and McGill;
  • Immediate-term: Award transfer credit or advanced standing toward McGill degree programs for appropriate studies completed at Ontario colleges.
  • Change McGill’s current admission practices to include Ontario colleges explicitly (in relevant academic programs, such as General Arts and Science) as a potential pathway to McGill for Indigenous students. Discussions with the Cree School Board suggest that many of Quebec’s Indigenous students are studying outside Quebec, often at Ontario colleges.
  • Medium-term: Award transfer credit or advanced standing for land-based Indigenous curricula such as the type offered by the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning.
  • Medium-term: Identify appropriate Ontario college studies as a clear basis of admission to undergraduate programs at McGill.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

6. Outreach to Indigenous Communities (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to extend the outreach to Indigenous communities to raise awareness about McGill opportunities by dedicating additional resources in order to recruit in a broader range of First Nation and Inuit communities throughout Quebec, Nunavik, Nunavut, and Ontario, notably:

  • One additional Indigenous recruiter and $25,000 in additional travel funds.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

7. Communication for Recruitment (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to devote resources to creating marketing and mentoring communication tools such as videos and radio advertisements that are culturally and linguistically relatable, including those that target Cree and Inuit audiences in their own languages.

To this end, the Task Force urges the creation of a video for prospective Indigenous students seeking information about the services and resources available to them at McGill University.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

8. K-12 Outreach and Collaboration (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to increase the enrolment of Indigenous students in university and efforts must begin much earlier than CEGEP. The transitions from primary school to high school to college and then to university represent potential barriers to progress. Students may require comprehensive support through each level to remain engaged. We recommend working closely with Indigenous communities to create transition and support programs to assist with those transitions. For example, enhance pre-high school outreach programs and communication materials to include more schools with significant Indigenous enrolment. In the immediate to medium term, McGill should:

  • Extend the SEDE Homework Zone program to include more Indigenous communities near Montreal
  • In addition, more recruiting should target younger age groups (immediate term); and
  • Work with local educational stakeholders, such as Kiuna College to establish explicit educational pathways from high school, to CEGEP, to university (medium term).

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

9. Increased Indigenous MDCM Allocation (Achieved & Further Expanded)

The Task Force calls on our University to advocate for an increase in the number of seats specifically available to Indigenous students who plan to study Medicine in the provincial MDCM Quebec First Nations and Inuit Faculty of Medicine Program. Currently just four MDCM seats are allocated for Indigenous students provincially, which the four universities share.

This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded.

10. Recruitment to Graduate Studies (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to open pathways to graduate studies (inspired by McMaster’s Indigenous Summer Research Scholars Program (IUSRS)). 

This Call to Action is categorized under achievements.

11. Increased Enrollment – Degree Programs (In Progress)

The Task Force calls on our University to note that many Indigenous students at McGill are enrolled in Continuing Studies programs, and to increase Indigenous student enrolment in degree programs by:

  • Establishing growth targets for specific faculties at the undergraduate and graduate levels; and
  • Establishing faculty-specific admission pathway and retention programs to complement the support offered by First Peoples’ House.
  • In the 2022-23 academic year, McGill had 501 Indigenous students enrolled.

This Call to Action is in progress.

12. Wrap-Around Support Services (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to establish a Proactive Accompaniment program: It is essential to provide academic, social, financial, and cultural support to the increasing number of Indigenous students who are recruited to McGill, retain them and support them through to graduation. The success of the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at McGill could serve as a model, offering academic, peer, financial, dedicated advising, and social support for Indigenous students that would support them throughout their time at McGill, including career services (i.e., replicate the MCF model, with modifications that are meaningful to the community, includes academic and cultural mentors).

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

13. Financial Aid (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to improve financial support for Indigenous students through the following measures:

  • Adjust cost structures for Indigenous students, for example, by allocating automatic awards for new and returning students, while establishing a clear and equitable self-identification model to support these measures (medium term);
  • Create a fund to award scholarships for special opportunities, e.g. summer undergraduate research in labs (including STEM programs) with flexible eligibility criteria (immediate term);
  • Ensure Indigenous student recruitment and retention is a key focus for the next University Advancement fundraising campaign, to create new undergraduate and graduate funding opportunities and to expand services to Indigenous students, including those within STEM programs (medium term);
  • Consider implementing a student funding model similar to the Haudenosaunee Promise at Syracuse University, which provides tuition and mandatory fee waivers for Indigenous learners from proximate territories, and was created “to recognize Syracuse University’s gratitude and appreciation for the historical, political, and cultural legacies of the Haudenosaunee, and to honor the bond that has developed between them” (medium term);
  • Take concrete steps toward the provision of waivers of tuition and mandatory fees for all Indigenous students enrolled at McGill (medium term).

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

14. Indigenous Access McGill (Achieved & Further Expanded)

The Task Force calls on our University to fund Indigenous Access McGill in a sustainable manner to ensure the ongoing support of Indigenous students enrolled in Social Work at McGill.

This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded.

15. Student Mentorship (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to create a mentoring program that could include Indigenous alumni or faculty mentoring current Indigenous students one-on-one.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

16. Program Delivery (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to advance the development of a variety of academic program delivery options that reflect the diverse needs of Indigenous students (urban, rural, on-and off-reserve, parents, work responsibilities). These may include community-based, online, on-or off-campus, cohort-based, intensive (e.g., two-week), certificate or summer programs. To this end, it will be essential to seek input from Indigenous communities as to the programs they need.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

17. Graduate Studies (Achievements)

The Task Force calls on our University to enhance its graduate studies curricula by emphasizing Indigenous ways of knowing within all disciplines.

It further calls on our University to respond to the need for greater funding opportunities to be made available to Indigenous students seeking to pursue graduate education, accompanied by transparent and clear information about eligibility about that funding and how to access it.

This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

    2. Physical Representation and Symbolic Recognition

    The Hiawatha Wampum Belt flag flying against a blurred background of blue skies and trees

    Physical and symbolic recognition are an important part of addressing McGill’s history and making the campus a welcoming space for Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community members. Calls to Action 18-28 include initiatives such as cultural and living spaces, land acknowledgements, and an Elder-in-Residence program. 

    Calls to Action 18-28

    18. Hochelaga Rock (Achieved & Further Expanded)

    The Hochelaga Rock is an enduring historical marker of Indigenous history and settler-Indigenous people’s interactions on the island of Montreal and its hinterland. The Rock marks the historical ties and use of the land by Indigenous peoples. It was moved to a more prominent site on the lower campus of McGill in the summer of 2016. The Provost’s Task Force was publicly launched with a ceremony at this site on September 22, 2016. On June 21, 2017, National Aboriginal Day, there will be a ceremony at the Hochelaga Rock to mark the submission of the Task Force Final Report on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education.

    The Task Force calls on our University to complete the relocation of the Hochelaga Rock on the lower campus by developing a plan for the landscaping of the new site, which will be developed in consultation with local Indigenous communities. Planning will:

    • Specify the design of the site;
    • Be linked to larger University plans for the lower campus of McGill;
    • Ensure that all aspects of the physical and symbolic elements of the design will respect the perspectives and voices of local Indigenous communities;
    • Ensure that the wording of commemorative plaques that mark the site, and recognize its symbolic importance in Indigenous history and presence, as well as the history of settler-Indigenous community relations, is chosen in consultation with local Indigenous communities; and
    • Establish an Honorary Committee composed of McGill representatives and community knowledge holders and elders who will be tasked with the responsibility of advising on the continuing maintenance of the site.

    This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded.

    19. Acknowledgement of Traditional Territory (Achieved & Further Expanded)

    The Task Force calls on our University to implement a University-wide policy that:

    • Acknowledges the traditional territory on which McGill University is located;
    • Consults directly with Indigenous communities in preparing and articulating this statement; and
    • Establishes and sets out, in a clear and transparent way, when the territory statement is to be used in University activities, events and publications.

    The Task Force further recommends that the territory statement articulated by the Joint Board Senate Committee on Equity’s Subcommittee on First Peoples (Subcommittee) be used as the baseline for the development of this policy.

    The Subcommittee’s statement reads: "We would like to acknowledge that McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg nations. McGill honours, recognizes and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which we meet today.”

    This Call to Action is achieved and further expanded

    20. McGill’s History of Interaction with Indigenous Peoples (Achievements)

    McGill has had a complex historical relationship with Indigenous peoples in the territory in which it is located, and beyond. In our response to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, McGill needs to demonstrate its own commitment to both truth and reconciliation by critically examining its history.

    The Task Force calls on our University to commission a critical self-study of the historical relationship of McGill with Indigenous communities and peoples by supporting an examination of this history led by a group of historians and archivists, including representation from Indigenous peoples and respecting Indigenous oral traditions. This group will be given a mandate and terms of reference that provide independence in their activity. It will be tasked with preparing a report of its findings and conclusions, which will be submitted to the Provost for institutional action.

    As a model for this study, the Task Force recommends the terms of reference and process used to prepare a report commissioned by the Provost of Northwestern University.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

    21. Varsity Teams and the McGill Name (Achieved & Further Expanded)

    The Redmen team name was raised repeatedly in our meetings – in Open Forums held on the downtown and MacDonald campuses, in meetings with Indigenous students, faculty and staff, and in discussions with a wide range of other members of the McGill community. Our community questioned seriously the credibility of the University’s efforts in relation to Indigeneity given the pejorative connotation of our men’s varsity team name.

    The Task Force notes past usages of the name 'Indians' to refer to men’s teams, and 'Squaws' or 'Super Squaws'to refer to women’s athletics teams, as well as phrases such as ‘Indians on the warpath’ and ‘Redman scalped’ that appeared in McGill media. Such demeaning and offensive language was used into the 1970s, long after the official naming of the men’s varsity team as the ‘Redmen'. Further,stereotyped images of Indigenous persons found their way onto McGill jerseys and helmets before a 1992 decision of the McGill Athletics Board to cease usage of the offensive logo, while retaining the Redmen name largely because of the apparently benign origins of the term Redmen.

    With a view to positioning McGill as a leader in post-TRC Canada, and in view of perspectives shared within the McGill community, the Task Force calls on our University to begin a process of consultation inside McGill, and with other relevant external organizations and communities, with the goal of renaming McGill male varsity teams.This consultation should engage all parts of the McGill community, communicate the community-building value of selecting a new team name, and recognize the contributions of student-athletes, past and present, to the University. The consultation will be guided by the pressing importance for the future of moving forward under a McGill team name that breaks with the associations that ‘Redmen’ evokes in contemporary society.

    This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded

    22. Indigeneity and University Governance (Achievements)

    The Task Force calls on our University to establish mechanisms that provide Indigenous community representation in central organs of University governance, in particular, the Board of Governors and University Senate, and at central University ceremonies, including convocations.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

    23. Recognizing Indigenous Excellence (Achievements)

    The Task Force calls on our University to ensure that Indigenous leaders in all fields are considered for honorary doctorates awarded at University convocations, and that the process by which individuals are identified allows Indigenous voices and recommendations to be heard.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

    24. Elder-in-Residence Program (Achievements)

    The Task Force calls on our University to provide financial support for programs that bring Indigenous elders and traditional knowledge-holders to campus.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

    25. Artists-in-Residence Program (Achievements)

    The Task Force calls on our University to establish an Artists-in-Residence Program that brings to campus Indigenous figures in the arts for short periods of reflection, engagement or teaching, ranging from several weeks to a semester in length.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

    26. Indigeneity and Public Spaces at McGill (Achievements)

    The Task Force calls on our University to establish a dedicated fund to be used:

    • For the purchase of Indigenous art and artifacts which will be added to McGill’s permanent collection;
    • To support exhibitions of Indigenous art; and
    • To ensure that McGill’s public spaces reflect McGill’s commitment to Indigenous education through the display of Indigenous art and culture on our two campuses.

    Moreover, following discussion with Facilities and Campus and Space Planning, the Task Force has identified the reconstruction of Leacock Terrace as an immediate opportunity to embed Indigenous themes in our public spaces.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

    27. Cultural and Living Spaces for Indigenous Members of the McGill Community (Achievements)

    The Task Force calls on our University to provide suitable cultural space for Indigenous students, staff and faculty, and suitable living and study space for Indigenous students by:

    • Recognizing and respecting the specific, diverse cultural practices of Indigenous persons on campus, such as smudging, or the preparation of culturally-based meals;
    • Recognizing the particular needs of some students, such as living spaces that can accommodate a student’s immediate family;
    • Providing space that can serve the community needs of Indigenous members of our community;
    • Providing suitable and culturally-relevant study space for Indigenous students, as well as appropriate educational support such as tutoring, and mentoring, health and social-psychological support, and technical support (e.g., computers, IT,etc.);
    • Enlarging and improving dedicated living space for Indigenous students who come to McGill by identifying suitable facilities, on or off campus, that can be used for this purpose;
    • Consulting with other universities in the city of Montreal with regard to sharing space, particularly living space, for Indigenous students; and
    • Ensuring that the provision of space dedicated to Indigenous persons and groups is integrated into all aspects of University planning, including plans for the Royal Victoria Hospital site.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

    28. Flying the Flags of Quebec’s Indigenous Peoples (Achievements)

    In recognition of the importance of building respectful and reciprocal relations with Indigenous nations, the Task Force calls on our University to:

    • As of June 2018, replace the Martlet flag, which flies from the Arts building, by the Iroquois “Hiawatha Belt” flag (symbolic of unity among the Haudenosaunee) for one week beginning on National Aboriginal Day (21 June);
    • On a rotating basis every year, fly the flag of each First Nation in Quebec; and
    • Place a permanent Hiawatha Belt flag at the recently relocated Hochelaga Rock on the lower campus.

    This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

      3. Academic Programs and Curriculum

      Graduating Indigenous students with red sashes stand with First Peoples' House staff

      McGill is in the process of working to Indigenize curricula across faculties. The University is developing its on campus and in-community course offerings. Explore Calls to Action 29-39 to learn about field courses, degree programs, language revitalization, and more.  

      Calls to Action 29-39

      29. Health Professions Training (Achieved & Further Expanded)

      The Task Force calls on our University to implement a five-year program (renewable) to increase the number of Indigenous students in all health-related professions based on Indigenous needs and priorities. The program should:

      • Work closely with Indigenous communities, educators and health professionals;
      • Specify a series of concrete steps and strategies including proactive intervention (the ‘Early Exposure Phase’) among Indigenous youth, transition support for Indigenous CEGEP students and mature students, and retention support for students in place;
      • Recognize the importance of Indigenous health curricula in health professional programs, and the importance of Indigenous faculty, scholars and support staff who will deliver the program to Indigenous youth and students;
      • Encompass a wide range of health professions, including but not limited to the units such as Communication Sciences and Disorders, Nursing, Physical and Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences; the Faculty of Dentistry; and the School of Human Nutrition in the Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences; and
      • Build out over time to include other health-related programs in other parts of the University, notably in the Faculties of Science and Education (particularly, areas of applied psychology), and in the School of Continuing Studies.

      This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded

      30. Social Work Training (Achievements)

      The Task Force calls on our University to implement a five-year plan (renewable) to increase the number of Indigenous students at McGill in the School of Social Work and provide them with the tools, training and support to graduate and make a difference in their communities while shaping Indigenous issues that affect Canadian society.

      The program should offer dedicated support to prospective students (beginning with initial inquiries, connecting prospective students to other educational institutions for the completion of prerequisites), support in locating housing, one-on-one support for in-stream students (academic and personal advising, mentoring and tutoring) and career development opportunities, including field placements, and guidance in seeking post-graduation employment.

      The program should maintain ties with Indigenous Social Work alumni who can play an important role as ambassadors encouraging the next generation of Indigenous students to stay in school and seek post-secondary education.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

      31. Indigenous Studies Program (Achieved & Further Expanded)

      The Faculty of Arts is in the unique position of having an emerging discipline in its Indigenous Studies Program that stands as a significant growth area in terms of research, teaching, student interest, community engagement and alumni support. Although it is only two years old, its success aligns with experience at other institutions in Canada and the United States where full-blown Indigenous or Native Studies programs have been proven successful for the past several decades.

      The Indigenous Studies Program needs to be solidified as a minor program before building out as an Institute for Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement.

      The Task Force calls on our University to take these steps:

      • Provide teaching support for the Indigenous Studies Program for three years by hiring of a Faculty Lecturer;
      • Provide a two-year postdoctoral fellowship to enhance research activities and opportunities in the Indigenous Studies Program; and
      • Provide support for a part-time administrator and an annual operating budget to support advising activities, the coordination of collaborative relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations, and to sponsor visiting speakers and traditional knowledge holders.

      This Call to Action has been achieved and further expanded.

      32. Institute of Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement (Achievements)

      The Task Force calls on our University to create and support a stand-alone academic unit in the emerging discipline of Indigenous Studies, which will be staffed by tenure-track faculty. By establishing the McGill Institute for Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement and building on the success of the Indigenous Studies minor program in the Faculty of Arts, the Institute would house a new Indigenous Studies major and honours program, and would have as a long-term goal the creation of a graduate program in Indigenous Studies.

      In terms of outreach activities and partnership-building with communities, the Institute would place emphasis on local Indigenous community engagement by prioritizing Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabeg, and Urban Indigenous populations and organizations.

      The Institute would be staffed by tenure-track academics, typically cross-appointed between the Institute and other units in the University, who study Indigenous knowledge systems and pedagogies, who seek to understand Indigenous societies from within, while recognizing and engaging with their constitutive philosophies, histories, epistemologies, identities, practices of political governance, cultures, and languages.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

      33. Field Courses and Land-Based Pedagogies (Achievements)

      In May 2017, McGill and the School of Social Work offered the 8th annual Indigenous Field Studies course. This unique course provides an opportunity for students from Social Work, Law, Medicine and Health Sciences, Anthropology and the Indigenous Studies Minor to learn about Indigenous cultures and worldviews, with a particular emphasis on Haudenosaunee teachings and their connection to the students' areas of practice, all under the instruction of community elders and a multi-disciplinary team of instructors. During this four-week intensive course (including one week in Kahnawà:ke, Mohawk Territory), students are introduced to Indigenous customs, values and ways of life through daily activities/workshops led by Elders from Kahnawà:ke and other community members, with support from McGill instructors. Attention is given to the intergenerational effects of colonization and Canadian policies on contemporary Indigenous society. Stressing hands-on learning, the course strives to enhance relationships and bridge cultural misunderstandings between soon-to-be professionals and the communities they may one day serve.

      The Task Force calls upon the University to support and enlarge Indigenous field course activities in these ways:

      • A dedicated annual budget;
      • Relying on the success of this field course as a model to build similar kinds of learning opportunities in other Indigenous communities, as McGill seeks to build collaborative and reciprocal relationships with communities; and
      • Identifying University partners across Canada by which our students and theirs could participate in field courses across the country. The Task Force has identified one such potential partner—Dechinta Bush University in the Northwest Territories—with which McGill’s Indigenous Studies Program already has an existing agreement to transfer course credits.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

      34. Language Revitalization and Documentation (Achievements)

      The Task Force has not assumed that Indigenous communities want to see Indigenous languages taught in a university setting for predominately non-Indigenous students while fluency rates in communities themselves are declining or under great pressure. McGill should consider where it can add the most value to language teaching and revitalization in Indigenous communities, while heeding the perspectives and needs of Indigenous communities as voiced by their members.

      The Task Force calls on our University to develop a plan and strategy, prepared with educators, administrators and elders in Indigenous communities, by which McGill’s resources and expertise in the fields of linguistics, teaching accreditation, educational psychology, Indigenous Studies and other fields can be marshaled to support language revitalization in local Indigenous communities, particularly in the traditional territory on which McGill’s campuses are located.

      To this end, we recommend that McGill:

      • Dedicate financial support (‘seed money’) for this plan, as well as identify who at McGill will lead this initiative for the University. The work of the Task Force suggests there is leadership on language revitalization in the Indigenous Studies Program, the Faculty of Education and the Department of Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts; and
      • Move to implement the plan once it is approved by communities and McGill University.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

      35. Online Part-time Degree in Indigenous Business Management and Public Administration (Achievements)

      Canadians reporting an Indigenous identity in national household surveys represent about 4.3% of our total population, and Indigenous peoples are the fastest growing population in Canada. The unemployment rate among Indigenous peoples is persistently about 2.5 times higher than Canada’s average rate and the average Indigenous annual income is substantially lower than that of the general Canadian population. The proportion of the non-Indigenous population in Canada who have attained a university degree is as much as three times higher than the proportion among Indigenous people. As all universities, it is incumbent on McGill to provide a variety of educational opportunities to Indigenous peoples that can respond to these multiple barriers.

      Following the success of developing and delivering over 25 online credit courses and 4 undergraduate certificate programs for Indigenous peoples, the School of Continuing Studies has proposed the development of a part-time online degree program in Indigenous Business Management and Public Administration.

      The Task Force calls on our University to provide financial support for a study aimed at examining the value and feasibility of such a program. The feasibility study will draw on wide consultation with Indigenous communities and organizations, will identify community and individual interest in such a program, will benchmark for models and best practices, will identify the specific niche that McGill can fill, and will evaluate the projected socio-economic impact of the proposed program.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

      36. In-Community Delivery of Education (Teaching) Degrees and Certificates (Achievements)

      The Office of First Nations and Inuit Education (OFNIE) in the Faculty of Education designs, develops and administers programs that are offered in First Nations and Inuit communities for First Nations and Inuit teachers. OFNIE works in partnership with First Nations and Inuit education authorities throughout Quebec to deliver community-based teacher education programs and professional development.

      This Office offers specialized Bachelor degree and certificate programs. Its B.Ed. Kindergarten/Elementary First Nations Education degree enables graduates to teach anywhere in the province of Quebec and beyond.

      In terms of future collaboration with Indigenous communities, OFNIE envisages McGill satellite campuses with all of its partners.

      Its most recent innovative program is a Bachelor of Education degree (kindergarten/elementary) offered through McGill University but totally in-community, in Listuguj. This is a McGill degree, infused with Mi’gmaq values. Its courses are taught by community members with Master’s degrees and doctorates as well as by McGill professors and course lecturers.

      The Task Force calls on our University to recognize the innovative work of OFNIE by providing support to this Office and the Faculty of Education as they roll out this new program in the Listuguj community, and as they develop plans for satellite campuses in collaboration with their First Nations and Inuit partners.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

      37. Emerging Leaders Program (In Progress)

      The Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID), in partnership with Emerging Leaders’ Dialogues Canada, is offering an innovative program that promotes relationship building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. The program will bring together 40 emerging Canadian leaders for a six-day program of classroom and community activity on Vancouver Island, and will be held for the first time in June 2017. McGill’s partner in this program is Vancouver Island University. The Task Force calls on our University to provide support that will allow ISID to make this an annual event that will create a network of Indigenous leaders over time.

      This Call to Action is in progress

      38. Exchange Programs for Indigenous Students (Achievements)

      The financial costs associated with student exchange programs might impede Indigenous students from participating in them. Moreover, exchanges can be challenging, even somewhat intimidating, experiences for students, perhaps particularly for Indigenous students who are already often dealing with the transition to life at McGill. Yet exchanges can be extraordinarily enriching for undergraduate and graduate students and should be as accessible as possible to all our students.

      The Task Force calls on our University to facilitate student exchanges for Indigenous students by:

      • Identifying sister institutions with whom exchange agreements could be struck;
      • offering Indigenous students opportunities to learn from each other, and from their different histories and experiences, by working together on different university campuses; and
      • Developing an academic model in which participating students are connected virtually on different campuses while on exchanges, perhaps even taking shared courses that include online content and interaction.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

      39. Indigenous Curriculum Content (Achievements)

      The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls on universities and colleges to introduce Indigenous content and engage with Indigenous pedagogies, epistemologies, values and worldviews in their academic curriculum and programs.

      A review of actions at other institutions across Canada shows that this call has been heeded in various ways, in some cases through mandatory courses, in other cases through integrating Indigenous content into several or many courses, or some hybrid of these two approaches.

      At McGill, there are mandatory courses or course modules with Indigenous content in the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Education, the School of Social Work in the Faculty of Arts, and the Schools of Nursing and School of Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

      The Task Force calls upon Faculties and Schools to heed this call to action from the TRC by presenting plans to the Provost in the academic year 2017-2018 and following, which will set out how Indigenous content will be introduced into their curriculum and programs.

      This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

        4. Research and the Academic Complement

        An Indigenous woman in regalia speaks from a podium at an outdoor event at McGill

        Research and the academic complement are another important part of reconciliation at McGill. Calls to Action 40-47 call upon the University to continue developing research partnerships with Indigenous communities, and to recruit, recognize, and support Indigenous faculty members. 

        Calls to Action 40 - 47

        40. Research Expectations (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to review and adapt as necessary research expectations for faculty and students who undertake community-engaged research, given that this type of research commands more time to conduct and disseminate than traditional forms of scholarship. To this end, McGill is encouraged to recognize explicitly alternate, unorthodox modes of knowledge translation and sharing that depart from standard, text-based output.

        The Task Force further calls for revisiting the notion of “peers” in academic research contexts. Indigenous scholarship maybe best evaluated by individuals in community who hold knowledge and who understand whether and how the research concerned is likely to affect or benefit Indigenous communities, peoples, territories and knowledges.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

        41. Internal Research Funding (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to establish internal funding awards to support McGill researchers and students who undertake Indigenous-led or Indigenous-partnered research that exhibits a full commitment to the First Nations Principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access, Possession) and protocols advanced by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the TRC’s Calls to Action, the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS), and the Research Protocol of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec & Labrador (AFNQL).

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

        42. Community Partnerships (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to develop partnerships with Indigenous communities where McGill faculty and students may undertake research, with a view to formalizing OCAP principles. Such partnerships may take the form of memoranda of understanding or agreement between Indigenous communities and McGill University. Partnerships should be premised on allowing Indigenous communities to advise the McGill research community about the most pressing questions within their communities that require investigation. Consideration should also be given to the creation of a bank of research questions or topics formulated by communities, which McGill students can be invited to pursue through independent or graduate research projects. This type of initiative reflects the partnership model toward which McGill should be striving, allowing research inquiry to originate within and ultimately serve to benefit Indigenous communities.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

        43. Research Protocols and Requirements (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to establish explicit requirements for McGill researchers (including faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and research associates and assistants) who take up work that engages with Indigenous peoples, communities, histories or knowledges, including:

        • The creation of a course on Indigenous methodologies, histories and experiences developed and led in collaboration with Indigenous community members, which must be taken by any McGill researcher whose work engages with Indigenous peoples, communities, histories or knowledges;
        • Developing a mandatory research protocol premised on OCAP principles for studies that involve data collection and use deriving from research with Indigenous communities and peoples;
        • Revising McGill’s research ethics criteria and review processes to ensure all research affecting Indigenous peoples aligns with UNDRIP, the TCPS, the AFNQL protocol, and OCAP principles, while also in compliance with Indigenous community ethics boards;
        • Ensuring that all members of McGill’s research ethics board have the training necessary to review research proposals affecting Indigenous peoples; and
        • Requiring any McGill-based researcher who seeks to conduct research within an Indigenous community to demonstrate compliance with any applicable community-based research ethics requirements before the research can be approved by a McGill’s research ethics board.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

        44. Cluster Hire & Target-Setting (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to set a target of at least 35 Indigenous tenure-track or tenured professors for appointment by 2032 (approximately 2% representation within 15 years). Strategies for meeting this target must be established both centrally and within Faculties:

        • Centrally: Initiate a cluster hire led by the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) that seeks, over the next three years, to hire 10 new faculty members in the tenure stream who have lived experience and expertise in Indigenous knowledges, epistemologies, methodologies, histories, traditions, languages, or systems of laws and governance. These positions should not be concentrated in one unit or Faculty; the goal must be to deepen Indigenous expertise across the campus. The Task Force further urges the allocation, within this cluster hire, of three Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) in the areas of Indigenous Sustainability Sciences, Indigenous Health Sciences and Indigenous Humanities.
        • Within Faculties: Require the articulation of local targets for Indigenous hires in the next five, ten and fifteen years, with Faculties regularly reviewing their progress and reporting to the Provost annually on this issue in the context of yearly reporting on equity in academic recruitment.

        While taking up this call to recruit Indigenous tenure stream faculty in the most robust way possible, the University is also urged to explore the potential to recruit Indigenous academic staff to posts outside the tenure stream, such as Professors of Practice or ranked Contract Academic Staff.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

        45. Equitable Recruitment (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to establish and support active, innovative and equitable recruitment strategies that respect and support Indigenous peoples, such as:

        • Mandatory training for academic search committees in equity and proactive recruitment methodologies to ensure that processes reach and resonate with prospective Indigenous candidates;
        • Establishing training for all faculty, staff and students regarding the TRC and related proximate Indigenous territories and communities, designed to illuminate how McGill’s efforts to recruit, support and retain Indigenous faculty are part of its commitment to reshaping its relationship with Indigenous peoples;
        • Bearing in mind the importance of Indigenous connections to land and community, encouraging faculty recruitment from local or proximate territories;
        • Encouraging search committees, chairs and deans to explore terms for appointments that allow Indigenous professors carrying out community-engaged research to spend blocks of time in their communities, even where the latter are not proximate or local (e.g., condensed teaching in one term, allowing an academic term to be spent in community); and
        • Allowing search committees to recruit and appoint to tenure-track positions candidates transitioning from McGill postdoctoral or PhD programs. Indigenous talent exists among our Master’s students and doctoral and postdoctoral candidates. These young researchers may wish to stay at our University, which may also be close to their home communities. Their ability to do so should not be barred by norms against hiring from our own doctoral or postdoctoral pools. These students might also have mentorship and support networks at McGill, and will not be well served by being expected to leave these behind as they embark on an academic career.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

        46. Equitable Retention (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to support the retention of Indigenous faculty through:

        • Adapted and more flexible academic expectations, given the extensive service work done by Indigenous faculty that is not adequately recognized or supported (e.g., mentoring, supporting and recruiting students and junior faculty and consultation on various Indigenous committees and undertakings). This may occur, for example, through adjusted teaching loads and/or expectations regarding what counts as research and research dissemination;
        • Rethinking the traditional tripartite academic role of teaching, research and service to better reflect Indigenous approaches to scholarship;
        • Valuing community-or land-based activities (e.g., outreach activities, youth mentorship, recruitment) as part of a professor’s teaching, research and/or service record;
        • Creating opportunities for collaboration among faculty, academic administrators and McGill’s Association of University Teachers (MAUT) to reach an understanding of the flexibility needed to ensure the successful trajectories of Indigenous faculty members;
        • Ensuring that community service is not subjugated in importance to research; and
        • Developing a mentorship program open to all tenure-track professors.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

        47. Recognition of Work in Community (Achievements)

        The Task Force calls upon our University to recognize explicitly that many Indigenous academics will hold a life-long commitment to their communities. These colleagues will thrive, and the University will thrive, if they are not made to choose between their duties to their communities and the requirements of an academic career. Academic appointments, and standards for assessing academic performance (e.g., for merit, renewal, tenure and promotion), must be flexible enough to cultivate the success of Indigenous scholars pursuing community-based research. Understanding how the University might recognize and reward community-based work as teaching, research and service calls for sustained and open dialogue with Indigenous colleagues.

        This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

          5. Building Capacity and Human Resources

          An Indigenous man in regalia speaks from a podium at an outdoor event at McGill, with students and staff standing behind him

          McGill’s human resources strategy plays an important role in supporting students, faculty, and staff. Calls to Action 48-52 cover subjects such as the creation of the Indigenous Initiatives unit, communications at McGill, and strengthening partnerships.  

          Calls to Action 48 - 52

          48. Office of Indigenous Strategy (Accomplished & Further Expanded)

          The Task Force calls upon our University to create an Office of Indigenous Strategy, which should:

          • Be aligned with other high level administrators, appropriately staffed and with an adequate budget; the office should be holistic and inclusive for students, staff and faculty; and
          • Have a mandate that includes: the ongoing monitoring of the progress in responding to the Task Force’s Calls to Action, facilitating cross-campus coordination and collaborations, and ensuring annual reporting to Senate.

          The establishment of this Office should occur simultaneously with the University’s:

          • Official endorsement of the TRC’s Calls to Action and University Canada’s Principles on Indigenous Education;
          • Development of an Indigenous Education Fund earmarked for encouraging new collaborative initiatives committed to realizing the Task Force’s Calls to Action. This fund, administered by the Office of Indigenous Strategy, should be open to the entire McGill community and include support from external partners;
          • Inclusion of Indigenous education as part of the academic mission statement; and
          • Inclusion of Indigenous education as part of the University’s strategic plan.

          This Call to Action has been accomplished and further expanded.

          49. Reporting on Key Performance Indicators (Achievements)

          The Task Force calls on our University to enhance reporting on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to Indigenous student admission, retention and success, and the recruitment and retention of Indigenous faculty and staff, through:

          • Improved data collection, monitoring, analyses and reporting; and
          • Formal reporting to Senate and the Board of Governors on KPIs related to Indigenous representation.

          This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

          50. Communications and Awareness-Building (Achievements)

          The Task Force calls on our University to create a coordinated communications strategy on Indigenous initiatives, programs and people. This can take the form of an online hub or occur via print materials. In this connection, the Task Force further calls on our University to explore and develop systematic modes of increasing general awareness and understanding of Indigenous topics and of incentivizing participation in education initiatives by all members of McGill’s community.

          This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements.

          51. Establishing and Strengthening Partnerships (Achievements)

          The Task Force calls on our University to establish new partnerships, and strengthen existing partnerships, with Indigenous communities, through:

          • Creating a formal Indigenous Advisory Board or Indigenous Education Council with a defined mandate, whose composition includes community leaders and stakeholders at McGill;
          • Creating more opportunities for the McGill community to visit, experience and learn from Indigenous communities;
          • Collaborating with local, provincial, national and international Indigenous scholarly, community and student service organizations to create opportunities for networking and sharing resources and best practices; and
          • Developing a procurement strategy that supports the Indigenous economy (ex: catering companies, artists, consultants, etc.) and that is respectful and understanding of Indigenous business protocols.

          This Call to Action is categorized under Achievements

          52. Human Resources Strategy (In Progress)

          The Task Force calls on our University to develop and communicate a strategy to boost Indigenous representation and success within McGill’s workforce, by:

          • Dreating a position for an Indigenous Human Resources Consultant and develop a strategy to ensure efficient recruitment, retention and advancement of Indigenous staff at McGill;
          • Seeking expertise and experience in developing and implementing this strategy through outside consultation (such as with the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business);
          • Developing an Indigenous faculty and staff mentorship program; and
          • Developing an Elder-in-Residence program and hiring Elders as staff, on salary with spaces provided to them for counselling, meeting and spiritual practices.

          This Call to Action is in progress


            Back to top