2. Physical Representation and Symbolic Recognition - In Progress

18. Hochelaga Rock (immediate term)

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. 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. 

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 settlerIndigenous community relations, is chosen in consultation with local Indigenous communities
  • 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

Progress

  • Relocation is complete
  • The specific call to action regarding the design of the landscape surrounding the rock was included in the campus Master Plan (2019) by the Campus Planning Development Office. Hochelaga Rock has been identified as a key element of Indigenous representation on campus in line with the Task Force report.

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

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.

Progress

  • McGill has begun scholarly work into this subject to provide a foundational basis on which to grow new initiatives.
  • There are post-doctoral hires arriving at the end of summer 2020 to begin two-year research contracts.
  • Professor Suzanne Morton from the Department of History has authored a short work titled "McGill Indigenous" which is available in our Resources section.

22. Indigeneity and University Governance (immediate term)

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.

Progress

  • The Indigenous governance bodies are currently undergoing review through the Office of the Provost- Indigenous Initiatives (OPII).
  • There is discussion of a potential Senate seat.

23. Recognizing Indigenous Excellence (immediate term)

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.

Progress

  • The Office of the Provost- Indigenous Initiatives (OPII) is discussing a potential annual submission of nominations for honoris causa. 
  • See the Indigenous Excellence page on the OPII website.

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

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

Progress

  • Flying the Hiawatha Wampum Flag, as well as the flags of other nations living in Quebec, on National Indigenous Peoples Day and on McGill University Pow Wow is now an established and normalized practice as a symbolic gesture to promote reconciliation.
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