Community Consultation Summary Report 2018
This report summarizes our community’s aspirations that were voiced in the talking circles, consultation meetings, events and course projects held at Ryerson over the past year and a half. While this report concludes the first stage of Ryerson’s path to reconciliation, it provides the foundation for the next stage of discussions with the entire community and groups on campus, including faculties, departments, unions and governing bodies, on a plan to strategically move forward together.
Ryerson is overcoming the legacy of a painful past. For years there was a lack of understanding of the concerns of its Indigenous community and little desire to accept responsibility to address these concerns. There was also a reluctance to acknowledge the harmful role played by the University’s namesake. As this report’s authors can readily attest, attitudes are quickly changing. Within the Ryerson community there is growing recognition of the need to demonstrate respect and understanding of the land the university sits on, and to recognize the cultural knowledge and ways of knowing brought by Indigenous students, staff and faculty.
Ryerson has committed to respond to the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada. It is doing so by creating its own pathway to reconciliation. The first stage of this process is now complete. It featured a round of consultations and discussions in which Ryerson’s Indigenous community played a prominent part. This community consultation report reflects the culmination of the initial stage. It highlights the challenges the university faces, identifies opportunities for change, and outlines a series of suggestions which, if adopted by the Ryerson community, would ensure that the university expands its recognition and funding for current and new Indigenous initiatives, infuses Indigenous knowledges into the curriculum in all faculties and incorporates Indigenous concerns as a priority in strategic planning.
The benefits that will flow from Ryerson’s path to reconciliation are important and long-lasting. Already the university has a substantial profile within the Indigenous community of Toronto. In the longer term, it has the opportunity to become a national leader in Indigenous education. Those involved in producing this report believe its recommendations will help bring these aims to fruition. We hope the wider Ryerson community agrees.
The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Ad Hoc Group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, students and staff who identified the need for all members of the Ryerson community to engage in a conversation on how to respond to the Calls to Action to bring about reconciliation and decolonization in ways that speak to the practical concerts of their work at Ryerson. The Ad Hoc Group includes:
- Centre for Indigenous Governance,
- Chair in Indigenous Governance, Dr. Pamela Palmater,
- Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR),
- CUPE 3904,
- Indigenous Students Association,
- Racialized Students Collective,
- Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA),
- RFA Aboriginal Caucus,
- Ryerson Students’ Union,
- Ryerson Sociology Students’ Union,
- RFA Equity Issues Committee, and
- Former Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Dr. Winnie Ng.
We would like to thank all of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous Ryerson students, staff and faculty who participated in the TRC Talking Circles and meetings with senior leadership who voiced their concerns, insights and recommendations as to how Ryerson can move forward with implementing the Calls to Action.
We also wish to acknowledge the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI), the Indigenous Students Association and Indigenous Students Rising for their contributions to the TRC consultations. We thank the Social Justice Week Committee for their ongoing commitment to making space for annual TRC conversations at Ryerson and for encouraging education and dialogue on the topic of reconciliation, including the annual TRC Check-In on the first day of Social Justice Week. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the Office of the Provost and VicePresident, Academic, and the President’s Office for launching and supporting this TRC community consultation process.