As a national and global academic leader, McGill University has a crucial role to play in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action. More precisely, McGill will heed the call of the TRC by engaging and collaborating with Indigenous communities to identify, explore and advance ideas, initiatives and plans that will embed Indigeneity in the life and activities of the University while seeking to enhance the presence and success of Indigenous students, faculty and staff at McGill.
To this end, in 2016, the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) a struck a Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education, animated by recognition of Indigenous history, contemporary presence, and ways of knowing and learning; and by reconciliation, in heeding the TRC’s calls to action, specifically through educational and institutional efforts aimed at redressing historical legacies of injustice and restoring relationships with Indigenous peoples.
The Task Force was mandated to make specific, concrete recommendations for engagement, action, and innovation, and in June 2017 presented the University with a final report that included fifty-two specific calls to action. Across the 2017-18 academic year, McGill will put in place a plan to implement recommended actions, and to ensure that we deliver on our commitment to Indigenous success. We have undertaken to build partnerships with Indigenous communities and to build pathway programs in collaboration with those communities to more than double the Indigenous student presence at McGill by 2022.
In support of this commitment, the PVPA created the position of Special Advisor, Indigenous Initiatives, and appointed Kakwiranó:ron Cook to this important new role. Mr. Cook was responsible for initiating the effective implementation of the recommendations included in the Final Report of the Task Force. Previously, he served as Indigenous Outreach Administrator in the Office of the Dean of Students, working closely with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada and regularly visited high schools, school boards, Band education centres and career fairs to promote higher education and McGill University. Mr. Cook is Akwesasne Mohawk & Oglala Lakota.