In light of a final report released by Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Task Force in March, Queen’s has created a new position under the Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) focused on Indigenous initiatives on campus.
Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) has been appointed Director of Indigenous Initiatives, a position that came about as a result of recommendations listed in the university’s TRC report.
The report, titled “Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi Extending the Rafters: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force Final Report,” lists 25 different recommendations aimed to promote awareness and exposure to Indigenous issues on campus. The creation of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives was the third recommendation on this list.
A strong advocate of Indigenous education, Hill is the former Director of Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre — a position she held since 2010. At Queen’s, she has facilitated substantial developmental growth at the centre and has executed a variety of initiatives on campus.
Hill helped develop an Indigenous Studies minor in the Faculty of Arts and Science, was a member of the TRC task force and coordinated the revamp of the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University.
While also preparing to move into her new office, Hill has been working to ensure the centre runs smoothly after her departure. She will officially step into her new role on October 2.
The Journal spoke to Hill about her goals in her new position and discussed how her transitionary period has been going in the two weeks since her appointment.
“Overall, the game plan is to enact the recommendations from the task force report. That’s my mandate, so… one of the first things is to strike an implementation committee,” Hill said. “It’ll be the implementation committee that will guide the implementation of the recommendations.”
Hill explained her two priority tasks are to develop an Indigenous strategic plan for Queen’s and to create a “vision statement.” This would outline the University’s commitment to building relationships with Indigenous communities and students.
She will also advise and support efforts to introduce more Indigenous content to faculty and departmental curriculums on campus.
“We have very few Indigenous faculty at the University,” she said. “In order for all the other faculty to feel like they’re properly equipped to teach Indigenous content, then I think that it’s imperative that we have at least an Indigenous content specialist on staff.”
Hill went on to express her desire to hear the input of students and individuals on campus.
“I welcome the opportunity to speak to any of the student body that cares to let me know what their views are. I would be happy to hear what they have to say about [the task force recommendations].”
Overall, Hill hopes her role and office will allow for students to leave Queen’s with a deeper understanding of Indigenous affairs. She highlighted the importance of awareness of acknowledging Indigenous history and realities in Canada.
“We can ensure that all the students who come here to get an education leave with some level of understanding of the Indigenous history and experience in this country,” Hill said.
“Queen’s has a reputation for educating the leadership and policy-makers and decision-makers in this country. I think it’s imperative that they learn the history and the current reality of Indigenous people.”
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