Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) reflects on Truth & Reconciliation Commission Task Force’s third report

Hill says Queen’s needs to move beyond representation and address systemic barriers on campus

The University released the third TRCTF report in September.

Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), associate vice-principal (Indigenous initiatives and reconciliation), told The Journal recent progress in Indigenous reconciliation at Queen’s gives her hope.

The Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (TRCTF) released its third Implementation Report in September. The report addresses the University’s progress in fulfilling the 25 recommendations discussed in the TRCTF’s final report in 2016.

“It’s been a difficult year for all of us, but I think the work is ongoing, and we’re still continuing to address the recommendations,” Hill said.

Queen’s is currently fulfilling each of the 25 recommendations, according to the report.

“I think we’re doing pretty good at responding to the recommendations,” Hill said. “There’s been activity in some respect on almost every recommendation in […] the report. So I’m pleased with that.”

“Mind you, a lot of the work, I think, is done on the ones that are easier. Like, in terms of representation, so hanging art and creating space.”

READ MORE: Truth & Reconciliation Commission Task Force releases third report

Hill said there has been “a lot of engagement” in the use of Indigenous languages to identify spaces on campus. According to her, one of the major recommendations from the national TRC report involved post-secondary institutions adopting Indigenous language programs.

“I’m really glad to see all of the efforts made around [that], especially Indigenous language work at Queen’s,” she said.

Hill added she’d like to see the University move away from “faces, places, and spaces” and look at more concrete action, working to address the systemic barriers Indigenous students, staff, and faculty face on campus.

She also said she wants the University to prioritize Indigenous research and the establishment of an Indigenous Research Centre.

Hill said a major challenge Queen’s still faces is Indigenous representation. She said there’s “not a lot” of Indigenous staff and faculty at Queen’s right now and more Indigenous faculty is needed to teach Indigenous studies courses.

According to the report, there are currently 100 Indigenous staff members at Queen’s.

Hill said one of the most important things the University has accomplished in the past year is the establishment of a minor program in Indigenous Studies.

“The whole reason we exist is for the purpose of education, and the whole purpose we exist is really in service to students,” she said. “So I think if we don’t provide proper and adequate information to students on Indigenous initiatives, then we’re doing students a disservice.”

She said she hopes the program will embrace Indigenous pedagogy and learning from the land, once COVID-19 restrictions allow students to gather in person again.

“The question of land is very important,” she said. “So I think it’s important for everyone to have opportunity to engage with the land.”

READ MORE: Pride & Indigenous flags to be hung in Queen’s residence buildings

Hill referenced the recent incidents at Chown Hall and the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, saying they “rocked the community” and the Indigenous community is “still recovering” from them.

Last October, a violent note was found in the fourth floor common room of Chown Hall. The note targeted LGBTQ+ and Indigenous students and referenced an incident earlier that month in which a Métis flag and a Pride flag were stolen from the common room.

The Pride and Indigenous flags hanging outside of Four Directions were also vandalized in June, and the tipi in the backyard was vandalized in July.

“There’s always going to be people who don’t think this work is important, but I like to think […] there’s more people who are what we normally would refer to as allies, who are assisting with this work.”

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