2. Physical Representation and Symbolic Recognition - In Progress

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.
  • There is currently a working research group for the history of James McGill. 

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

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.

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

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.
  • Enrolment Services has worked to develop the McGill Okòn:ra Undergraduate Award as of Fall 2022 for incoming and returning Indigenous students pursuing a Bachelor's or Undergraduate Professional degree in the faculties of Medicince, Dentistry, or Law. The award is worth $5,000 in each year of study up to a maximum of $20,000. 
  • Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies recognizes Jeremy Dejarlais, Michelle Smith and Iris Kahtehrón:ni Stacey in 2018 as Vanier Scholars. 

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

24. Elder-in-Residence Program (immediate term)

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

Progress

  • The Mellon Fund Committee engaged in discussions on this program with various stakeholders, including the Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative team, the Indigenous Studies Program, and the First Peoples' House.
  • The First Peoples' House is currently hosting visiting Elder Geraldine Standup and Healer Mike Standup, who are providing individual consultations to Indigenous students at the University.
  • The Faculty of Law will be posting an opening for an Elder-in-Residence position in Fall 2022. 

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

25. Artists-in-Residence Program (immediate term)

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.

Progress

  • In Winter 2021, the Mellon ISCEI Artist in Residence program hosted Caroline Monnet, an Anishinaabe/French multidisciplinary artist working in film, painting, and sculpture. Since then, six works have been purchased to be displayed across various faculty spaces at McGill. 
  • The program is currently hosting Dayna Danger (Winter 2022), a Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, Métis-Saulteaux-Polish visual artist based in Tiohtiá:ke. Danger works in photography, sculpture, performance, and video.

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

26. Indigeneity and Public Spaces at McGill (medium term)

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.

Progress

  • The Master Plan, created by the Campus Planning Development Office, acknowledged the importance of and identified locations for public Indigenous art on campus.
  • The New Vic Project calls on Indigenous submissions for proposals regarding Indigenous-inspired public artwork, aimed at a permanent installation within the space. 
  • The Mellon Fund committee is exploring how it might support the placement of Indigenous art in prominent locations.
  • The Faculty of Engineering has installed a projector in the McConnell Engineering Building that will feature a series of digital art exhibits from diverse artists. For the first exhibit, the Faculty has collaborated with the Indigenous Initiatives office, the Visual Arts Collection office, and the Indigenous Inclusion Committee to launch an Indigenous artwork series with the goal of increasing visibility, representation, and inclusion of Indigenous students and cultures in the Faculty of Engineering and McGill at large. In conjunction, permanent artworks have also been selected by the Indigenous Inclusion Committee to be installed in the Engineering complex. The exhibit will be part of McGill's Bicentennial celebrations in Fall 2021.
  • The Faculty of Law displays iconology and fine arts in the form of Inuit artwork in the Roderick Macdonald Lobby, the Maxwell Cohen Moot Court, and new Chancellor Day Hall. The Faculty collaborated with the Nahum Gelber Law Library to restore and hang a massive work by Robert Houle on the ground floor of the library.
  • The Faculty of Arts also participated in the Red Dress project, hanging a red dress in the Atrium from Feb. 7 - Mar. 15, 2019.

Next Steps

  • Hiring summer research assistants to assist with the creation of a guide to Indigenous art on campus.
  • Dedicating physical space on campus for Indigenous community members and continued efforts to integrate Indigeneity into existing physical spaces.
  • The Teaching and Learning Spaces Working Group (TLSWG) has been given approval for the rennovations of Chancellor Day Hall second floor to support spaces for Indigenous pedagogies both within, and outside of the Faculty of Law. Consultations with Indigenous faculty, staff, students, and community partners have been undertaken on design proposals. 

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

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

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.

Progress

  • Although not all completed, in the Master Plan of the Campus Planning Development Office, the role that First Peoples' House plays on campus for establishing orientations and providing cultural space for the Indigenous community including study, teaching and living was recognized. 
  • The McGill Visual Arts Collection (VAC) aims to include the exhibition of Indigenous art and culture in a prominent manner through rotation in the collection, or permanently integrated elements of spatial design. This Fall (September 2022), the VAC is put forth the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Exhibition) as part of the "Ajuinnata at McGill" event series focusing on showcasing Inuit excellence.
  • The Faculty of Engineering launched Projections: Kwe, the inaugural digital exhibit in the Projections series, on April 13, 2022. The exhibit features 30 artworks from a variety of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, curated by the Engineering Undergraduate Society’s Indigenous Inclusion Committee (IIC) from McGill's Visual Arts Collection. In concert with Projections: Kwe, the Faculty of Engineering has installed two permanent artworks by Benjamin Chee Chee, Afternoon Flight and Friends, on the first floor of the McConnell Engineering Building.

Next Steps

  • Two priorities have emerged from a space and planning perspective at McGill: 1) Double the amount of space available for Indigenous initiatives in alignment with the goal of doubling the Indigenous student presence at McGill 2) Enlarging and improving living spaces is another priority in direct support of this call to action.
  • This includes the creation of a home for the Indigenous Studies Program (Mellon Grant) as well as an expanded and reimagined First Peoples' House that addresses cultural, social and service needs of the community. These projects would include spaces for an elder and writer in residence.
  • Classrooms at the Royal Vic will be Indigenized, following the budget outlined by McGill Teaching and Learning Services. They will be incorporated in one smaller classroom, and one larger classroom and will be designed in collaboration with Indigenous community representatives with the goal of creating new spaces for Indigenous faculty, staff, students, and guests to carry out cultural practices and ceremonies on campus. Two additional spaces for Indigenous community members that are being considered include an Indigenous healing garden on the New Vic's 9th floor roof terrace and an outdoor Indigenous gathering space on the front lawn.
  • The Fiat Lux Library Project team plans to engage with Elders, student representatives, and Indigenous Initiatives to ensure that elements of Indigenous design are incorporated into library spaces at McGill, through dedicated spaces or integrated services.
  • The Indigenous Learning Space is part of the renovations that are planned to begin in Spring 2023 on the second floor of New Chancellor Day Hall. The space is designed to be shared with First Nations communities, students, staff and the Elder in residence. Discussions were had during the Engagement Strategy Working Group and Truth and Reconciliation Subcommittee meetings throughout the 2021-2022 academic year.

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

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.

Last Updated: 7 November 2022

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