Truth & Reconciliation Commission publishes second annual report

99 Indigenous employees at Queen’s in 2018

Queen's has received its second annual Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
Journal File Photo
This September, Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission published its second annual Implementation Report, detailing statistics on Indigenous presence at Queen’s.
The Report provides an overview of progress made in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s (TRCTF) 25 recommendations submitted in April, 2016, for improved institutional change. 
According to the newly released report, some of the task force’s recommendations that have been achieved include the establishment of an Indigenous Initiatives Implementation Roundtable, attention and resources directed towards Indigenous research, and increasing the capacity of the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and the Centre for Teaching and Learning. 
According to the Report, Indigenous staff at Queen’s increased from 2.3 to 4.1 per cent from 2016-18, with Indigenous faculty rising from 1.7 to 2.0 per cent over the same period. As of 2018, there were 99 Indigenous employees at Queen’s.
In 2018, 40.8 per cent of 24,649 Queen’s students responded to a self-identification survey. Of those students, 4.3 per cent self-identified as Indigenous. Currently, there are 92 self-identified Indigenous graduate students at Queen’s.
A significant step in implementing the TRCTF’s recommendations was the appointment of Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) as associate vice-principal (Indigenous Initiatives & Reconciliation) in October 2018.
“I don’t know if I see a significant difference [between last year and this year’s report],” Hill said in an interview with The Journal about the report. “A lot of it is the same, except more work is being done, and more people are picking up the work.”
According to the report, other ongoing projects include the implementation of Indigenous artwork around campus, increased hiring of Indigenous staff and faculty, Indigenizing class curricula, and the incorporation of Indigenous pedagogy and methodology in research.
While Hill is happy with the work currently being done at Queen’s, she said more can be done. “It’s time for us to look deeper at systemic things and policy issues and take meaningful steps,” she said.
Hill believes tackling systemic racism will be difficult. 
“How do you decolonize such a colonized space?” she asked. “It might be impossible in an institution such as this.”
She added she’d like to see the University engage with Indigenous parties off-campus. She noted critical issues close by that Queen’s could collaborate with Indigenous groups on, like the lack of potable water on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a reserve less than an hour away from campus. 
Hill also suggested the University designate Indigenous spaces on all of its campuses, but is happy with the revitalization and renewal of Indigenous languages at Queen’s, particularly the languages of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee people, on whose lands Queen’s is situated.
“The level of engagement with Indigenous initiatives has really increased in the past few years,” Hill said. “There is a real, genuine desire to make this an inclusive space for Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”
Despite progress detailed by the report, however, Hill said the recent racist incident in Chown Hall was “disturbing.”
“Queen’s is a microcosm of the world, and I know there are people who feel that way about Indigenous [peoples] and members of the LGBTQ+ community, but it did make me pause for thought,” Hill said. “This really brings into question your safety [as an Indigenous person on campus].”
She said that response to the incident should be directed by the members of the community most affected, just like all reconciliation efforts on campus.
Ultimately, Hill said she believes reconciliation works best using a multi-pronged approach. 
“Reconciliation work is really about relationships between human beings and 
the environment.”

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