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Western OK’s landmark Indigenous plan

January 23, 2017

The approval of the Indigenous Strategic Plan is an historic occasion for Western, one that has been a long time coming, noted Janice Deakin, Western’s Provost and Vice-President (Academic). Next up, a task force will be formed with the mandate, in the New Year, to recommend ways to implement the goals outlined within the plan, she said.

“It’s an important step toward fulfilling a commitment made in the university’s overarching strategic plan (Achieving Excellence on the World Stage) to improve accessibility and success in higher education for Indigenous peoples. It also provides some direction for how we will respond to the calls to action outlined in the 2015 report issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,” Deakin said.

“Western stands among many postsecondary institutions across the country that are focusing greater attention on issues related to Indigenous education – something that’s profoundly overdue, and something to which we are strongly committed to achieving tangible results.”

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the members of the Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Committee who consulted with close to 700 campus and Indigenous community members over the course of the last three years to develop the plan,” she continued. Western’s first-ever Indigenous Strategic Plan seeks to remedy the under-representation of Indigenous peoples as students, professors, staff and administrators in Canada’s postsecondary education system, according to university officials.

In consultation with the Indigenous Postsecondary Education Council, Western formed an Indigenous Strategic Initiatives Committee, which has been engaging and consulting members of the campus community and local/regional First Nations communities over the past two years to develop the draft strategic plan. Western has three local First Nations communities in close proximity – Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Oneida Nation of the Thames and Munsee Delaware Nation.

The document sets down eight strategic directions for the institution, including:

The plan calls for the university to “explore strategies to increase Indigenous content across undergraduate programs. (e.g. mandatory course and/or embedding Indigenous content into foundational undergraduate courses using common learning outcomes).”

This article appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of Alumni Gazette
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