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First Indigenous policy think tank launches at Ryerson University

Institute will foster wider dialogue within the university, among Indigenous peoples and Canadians
June 05, 2018

Ryerson’s Faculty of Arts launches Yellowhead Institute, the first Indigenous-led policy think tank that will conduct critical analysis on policy and laws affect First Nation communities. Pictured left to right: Hayden King, executive director and Assistant Professor Shiri Pasternak, research director. Photo Credit: Clifton Li

TORONTO, June 5, 2018 -- Ryerson University is proud to announce the launch of  Yellowhead Institute, external link, a national think tank rooted in Indigenous community networks and committed to Indigenous self-determination.

"Yellowhead Institute will be the first Indigenous-led national think tank,” said Hayden King, executive director of Yellowhead Institute. “There is no organization in the country doing policy and legislative analysis, and sharing it with First Nations communities to support their work. And with the speed and scope at which policy changes are happening, there is an urgent need."

Housed in the Faculty of Arts, the institute will gather Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers to conduct accessible analysis on policy and law affecting First Nation communities. The mandate of the institute is to support First Nations in their pursuit of self-determination in Canada by taking a critical approach to government policy, and advocating for models of change that protect the rights of First Nations peoples.

For Shiri Pasternak, the institute’s research director, “reconciliation is not just about a change of heart - it's about political and economic change in Canada. The Yellowhead Institute is committed to creating a space of real transformation to shape what justice in Canada might look like for Indigenous peoples.”

On the heels of the launch, the institute has released its first report, external link, which takes a critical look at the Liberal government's Indigenous Rights, Recognition and Implementation Framework, external link. The report finds that the framework is guiding First Nations towards a narrow model of “self-government”, which fails to engage First Nation inherent and treaty rights.

In addition to publishing bi-monthly public policy briefs and bi-annual special research reports, the institute will host workshops and conferences to encourage education and open dialogue between Indigenous communities and Canadians.

“The Faculty of Arts is committed to promoting an informed understanding of Indigenous perspectives and awareness of Indigenous issues, within the university and beyond,” said Dean Pamela Sugiman, Faculty of Arts. “Yellowhead Institute will be a crucial resource for all Canadians as we work together to establish a nation-to-nation relationship.”

Yellowhead Institute, external link generates critical policy perspectives in support of First Nation jurisdiction.The Institute is a think-tank  based in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. Privileging First Nation philosophy and rooted in community networks, Yellowhead Institute focuses on policies related to land and governance.

Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 45,500 students, including 2,600 master’s and PhD students, 3,100 faculty and staff, and nearly 185,000 alumni worldwide.

Suelan Toye
Communications and Media Relations
Faculty of Arts | Ryerson University
416-979-5000 x3868 |