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Supports for Indigenous students, faculty and staff

​Community-based approach centres Indigenous folks and attends to ongoing grief from residential school trauma
September 28, 2021
People embrace in front of a memorial featuring many pairs of shoes.

People embrace in front of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill at a memorial for the 215 children whose remains were found at the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation in Kamloops, B.C., in Ottawa on Friday, June 4, 2021. Photo by Justin Tang

In the months following the confirmation of unmarked graves at the sites of former Indian Residential Schools across Turtle Island, campus partners have been creating spaces to centre Indigenous students, faculty and staff and to attend to the community's grief and anger with healing and action.

"This community-based approach conveys that Indigenous folks won’t have to shoulder all the emotional labour associated with this crisis,” says Monica McKay, director, Aboriginal Initiatives, Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion. 

“This inclusive response will ensure we address both the academic and non-academic expectations and responsibilities of our students, faculty and staff. This work will be ongoing, and we hope to ensure our community members have compassionate accommodations while we underscore the moral and political impacts that normally aren’t addressed or included." 

As the university comes together this week to acknowledge Orange Shirt Day and the first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, here are some supports for Indigenous students, faculty and staff provided by Aboriginal Initiatives in the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion in collaboration with campus partners. 

For students

The following supports are available to students who self-identify as First Nations, Inuit, Metis, or Indigenous to Canada (or those who identify by nation or community) at the university.

Traditional counselling through Aboriginal Student Services (RASS) 

Indigenous students can connect with RASS’s Traditional Counsellor who provides traditional counselling and “wholistic” support, inclusive of a person’s physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being. 

Indigenous students who are interested in teachings to help manage strong feelings, grief and trauma can contact Sloan (Jo) Miller (Traditional Counsellor, RASS) at joanne.miller@ryerson.ca and Samanatha Mandamin (Academic Support Advisor, RASS) at smandamin@ryerson.ca

One-on-one, culturally appropriate counselling through the Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC)

Indigenous students can connect with an Indigenous counsellor through the CSDC in collaboration with Aboriginal Initiatives.

Indigenous students who are interested in booking a confidential appointment can contact Sloan (Jo) Miller (Traditional Counsellor, RASS) at joanne.miller@ryerson.ca and Jean Tsai (Co-Clinical Coordinator, CSDC) at j.tsai@ryerson.ca

Academic considerations and/or accommodations

Faculty should follow policies and practices to help ensure students requiring alternative arrangements or accommodations have access to the supports and resources they require to help ensure their success. Students requesting considerations and/or accommodations regarding their ability to fulfil academic requirement(s) associated with their course(s) can refer to the following policies: 

All students can contact the Senate Office for assistance applying those options within the online Academic Consideration Request (ACR) application process. 

The university’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy sets out the human rights and responsibilities of all community members, including the duty to accommodate. If you have any questions about your human rights and duties, contact Human Rights Services.

For employees

The following supports are available to employees who self-identify as First Nations, Inuit, Metis or Indigenous to Canada (or those who identify by nation or community) at the university.

One-on-one, culturally appropriate counselling

Through the university’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), Workplace Wellbeing and Aboriginal Initiatives have arranged for Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson (Métis trauma counsellor and psychologist) to be available for individual, confidential counselling. 

Indigenous employees (who have self-identified through the Employee Diversity Self-ID Program) can call the Morneau Shepell Care Access Centre at 1-844-880-9142 and request an appointment with Lloyd. 

Indigenous employees who have not self-identified through the Employee Diversity Self-ID Program and wish to have access support through Morneau Shepell are also eligible for this service. If you have any questions about your eligibility for EFAP services, contact Tracey King (Indigenous human resources lead) at t26king@ryerson.ca and/or Jennifer Alefounder (accommodation and return to work consultant) at jennifer.alefounder@ryerson.ca.

Group talking and trauma session 

Workplace Wellbeing and Aboriginal Initiatives have arranged for Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson (Métis trauma counsellor and psychologist) to be available for a group talking and trauma session in October. 

Indigenous employees who are interested in participating are invited to google formcomplete the registration form, external link.

Information, guidance and support regarding leaves and accommodations 

Employees who are experiencing mental health impacts that are significantly interfering with their work and home life (or who wish to seek additional support) are encouraged to contact the Workplace Wellbeing Services team.

For all employees and students 

Group talking circles and beading circles    

Aboriginal Initiatives, RASS and the Aboriginal Education Council (AEC) are organizing a series of group talking circles (in-person) and beading circles (in-person and online) for Indigenous community members throughout the fall semester, as a way to gather community together and provide places to connect and to do something tactile to contribute to well-being.

Indigenous students and employees who are interested in participating are invited to complete the registration forms:

For concerns regarding discrimination, harassment and community members' conduct, including online activity

If university community members have concerns regarding instances of discrimination and harassment, whether in person or online (including on university platforms like email), they are encouraged to contact Cher Trudeau (administrative assistant, Aboriginal Initiatives and coordinator, Aboriginal Education Council) at cktrudeau@ryerson.ca

Community members can also get in touch directly with Human Rights Services to report an incident or occurrence of discrimination or harassment as per the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy or Student Care who administers complaint resolution processes related to non-academic student conduct as per the PDF fileStudent Code of Non-Academic Conduct.

If there are concerns around physical safety and security, community members can also contact Community Safety and Security

If you’re unsure of your next step: 

  • Students can also reach out to Brian Norton (program coordinator, RASS) at bnorton@ryerson.ca or Student Care
  • Faculty members can reach out to the dean of their faculty. Faculty members may also contact the Ryerson Faculty Association. Contract lecturers and assistants in CUPE 3904 Units 1, 2, 3 may reach out to their supervisors and also contact their respective union stewards. Faculty and contract lecturers may also contact the Office of Vice-Provost, Faculty Affairs.
  • Staff can reach out to Tracey King (Indigenous human resources lead) at t26king@ryerson.ca or their HR partner.

Crisis support through the Indian Residential School Survivors Society

For immediate crisis support, please contact the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Community members with questions are encouraged to reach out to Cher Trudeau (administrative assistant, Aboriginal Initiatives and coordinator, Aboriginal Education Council) at cktrudeau@ryerson.ca

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