University and Indigenous leaders explore ways to make meaningful, lasting change in support of Indigenous education

September 23, 2021
News
People dressed in orange shirts, holding hands in a circle

QUEBEC CITY – On September 21 to 23, Indigenous and postsecondary leaders came together virtually to advance truth and reconciliation at the sixth annual Building Reconciliation Forum.

The annual national Building Reconciliation Forum brings together leaders from universities, colleges and Indigenous communities to create meaningful and lasting institutional change in the higher education sector to advance reconciliation.

Hosted jointly by Université Laval and Université du Québec Network in partnership with Indigenous organizations throughout Quebec, the virtual forum centered around the theme, Falling into step with First Peoples students. Leading up to the event, five webinars on Indigenous education were held to prepare participants for fruitful and informed discussions (watch the recordings).

As the first Forum to be hosted by Quebec institutions, the event gave participants deeper insight into the unique cultural and historical realities of Indigenous Peoples in the province, while also exploring issues affecting Indigenous Peoples across the country. Over 400 participants registered for the Forum, including postsecondary and Indigenous community leaders, Elders, knowledge holders and student ambassadors from each of the 11 First Nations and Inuit nations in Quebec.

At a pre-Forum event organized by Institution Kiuna—the only First Nations-led college in Quebec—participants paid tribute to the missing children found in unmarked graves at residential school sites across Canada. This tragic discovery serves as a reminder of the importance and urgency of advancing both truth and reconciliation, especially in education.

Among the topics discussed at this year’s Forum were ways to improve postsecondary access and support for Indigenous students, as well as ways to make space for Indigenous Peoples in teaching, research and university governance.

Working with the local host institution(s), Universities Canada plays a national coordinating role in the annual events.

QUOTES

“This Forum has been an opportunity to convene postsecondary and Indigenous leaders from across the country so that we can work together to advance Indigenous education and truth and reconciliation. The sessions these past few days helped us deepen our understanding of the unique realities facing different Indigenous communities, including those in Quebec.”
– Paul Davidson, president, Universities Canada

“It’s been heartening to see the engagement at this year’s Forum; it’s a testament to the fact that promoting Indigenous education and reconciliation remains a top priority for Canadian universities. I look forward to seeing how the knowledge shared will spark meaningful and lasting changes within our institutions.”
– Sophie D’Amours, chair, Universities Canada and rector, Université Laval

“As we conclude the sixth Building Reconciliation Forum, the entire higher education community has, more than ever, fallen into step with First Peoples students and made a number of concrete commitments that will be implemented over the next year. We are hopeful that these actions will help us better respond to the needs and realities of Indigenous students. We want to welcome Indigenous students and accompany them on the road to success. Let’s continue to build on this momentum.”
– Johanne Jean, president of the Université du Québec network, and Senator Michèle Audette, assistant to the vice-rector Academic and Student Affairs, and senior advisor for reconciliation and Indigenous education at Université Laval, the copresidents of the Building Reconciliation Forum

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Tagged:  Indigenous education

About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.

Media contact:

Lisa Wallace
Communications manager
Universities Canada
communications@univcan.ca

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