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The Indigenous-led movement to Change the Name: A short recap of the last two years

On November 17th, McGill announced the new name of the Men’s Varsity Team: the Redbirds. This comes after many years and generations of Indigenous students who fought for the name change. Below is a very abridged history of the recent history of the name change:

Following the large protest in 2018, led by members of the Indigenous community, students continued to push for change through tabling and entering classrooms to further explain McGill’s history with mascots and names. These actions were to further remind other students to vote for the name change during the SSMU referendum. Although the motion did pass within the Student Union, students did not hear a formal announcement by McGill and were continually being handed insults, rude comments and at times, being yelled at by senior staff.

Following the lack of communication by the University, students led another campaign to stop the renewal of the Fee to Improve Athletics – during a Board of Governors meeting, students dropped a large banner off Leacock, demanding that Athletics needs to change their name before improving a facility meant for all students.

It was only announced in April 2019 that the name would change, months after being silent. Following the announcement, male Indigenous athletes were invited to join discussions on the name change as well as other students and staff within Athletics. However, Athletics has failed to discuss how Indigenous athletes can be supported in their team sports and much more work needs to be done within Athletics to make it a welcoming space.

 

 

Students Call for More Support across Campus

In a recent article from the Bull and Bear, a student-led newspaper on campus, Indigenous students call for more support across campus. As the recent announcement of the Men’s Teamname being changed to Redbird, a sense of closure was finally brought to students who fought for the name to be changed.

In the article, Indigenous students, alumni, and faculty discuss the lack of support systems currently in place and push for more Indigenous faculty and staff. One student shared her experience at the Wellness Hub, stating that multiple stereotypes were being perpetrated on her by doctors and psychiatrists while trying to seek help.

As well, one Indigenous graduate noted that McGill is only beginning to address these issues and that more work needs to be done. As the Indigenous student population is very small, erasure and isolation from student services on campus occur more often within the community.

You can read the full article here.

Kitchen-table Chat on Indigenous Space at the Dept. of Family Medicine

On Thursday November 12th, the Department of Family Medicine invites Indigenous students, faculty and community members from McGill and beyond the University to attend a kitchen table conversation to share thoughts about what such a space can be, look like and offer to students, faculty and the University community.
The Department of Family Medicine intends to create an Indigenous space at their location, 5858 Cote des Neiges. The Dept. has acquired additional space in the building and part of the planning is to dedicate a space – 1 or 2 rooms, that could become a center for Indigenous health research for not only Family Medicine, but for the whole McGill community.
In Family Medicine, Richard Budgell and Alex McComber have been asked to facilitate discussions around what this Indigenous space could be, the look, the activities, etc. There is no pre-registration and the McGill Indigenous community is invited to attend, even for only a part of the gathering.
Please contact alex.mccomber@mcgill.ca to confirm your interest to participate

Youth Fusion is Hiring

Founded in 2009, Youth Fusion is an award-winning charity that contributes to reducing dropout rates, developing 21st century skills and increasing community engagement among youth by implementing innovative experiential learning projects that create ongoing links between schools and communities. Currently, Youth Fusion is partnered with McGill to help students with career opportunities as well as mentored learning.

Every week, we work with 12,700 youth in 220 schools in rural and urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Youth Fusion is presently hiring for various positions and we invite you to visit the Careers section of our website. We also wanted to put forward the following positions:

Youth Fusion highly values Indigenous knowledge; self-identifying Indigenous candidates are strongly encouraged to apply!

For more information or to apply you can contact Lydia Risi, Senior Director of Operations and Philanthropy – First Nations and Inuit communities (lrisi@fusionjeunesse.org).

McGill Welcomes new Indigenous Faculty

On October 27th, McGill formally welcomed seven Indigenous academic staff (one being a recent hire who was not able to attend precious ceremonies), following a series of hires across departments and faculties. The welcome ceremony took place virtually and included prayer and ceremony by Indigenous Elders.

This series of hires stems from the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education, who called upon the University to set a target of appointing at least 35 Indigenous tenure-track or tenured professors by 2032.

Welcome and congratulations again on joining McGill!

Click here to read the full article from the McGill Reporter to learn more about the new hires.

Indigenous Initiatives launches new Website

On October 27th, Indigenous Initiatives launched their new website. This web site is serves as a central information hub pertaining to the different Indigenous projects and programs throughout the University including the work of Indigenous Initiatives.

Indigenous Initiatives was created following the 2018 final report from the Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Inidgenous Education. The report called for fifty-two specific Calls to Action in total. One Call to Action was the creation of a central administrative unit to guide Indigenous strategies and initiatives throughout the University, and more importantly, act as steward of an overarching vision. As such, Indigenous Initiatives fills this role.

On the website, you can find many resources such as updates on the 52 Calls to Action, current research, partnerships and resources for faculty, staff and students among other central topics. Be sure to check it out!

McGill’s Student Chapter of AISES attends 2020 National Conference

AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) held its annual National Conference online from October 15 to October 17, and the McGill chapter, .caISES, attended. The National Conference aims at the promotion of Indigenous representation in STEM and celebrates the work being done by Indigenous students and researchers. The conference held networking suites, an opening ceremony, sessions for all tracks, research presentations, and career fairs, among other events.

McGill’s chapter attended the conference and won the Professional and Chapter Development Award for the second year in a row! The Professional and Chapter Development is a long-range AISES goal and aims to ensure that upon graduation, their members are prepared to enter the workforce.

AISES is a large student network consisting of chapters across universities, and its overall mission is to increase the representation of Indigenous peoples in STEM. McGill is part of the Canadian branch, which consists of McGill University, University of British Columbia, University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba and Queen’s University.

Congratulations!

 

McGill Students at AFN’s Youth Summit on Language Revitalization

The Assembly of First Nations hosted an online National Youth Gathering from the Languages and Culture Sector virtually over the weekend of October 17th and 18th. This gathering, Spirit Speakers: Our Languages, Our Future, was originally scheduled for March 27th-30th 2020, however, due to health concerns stemming from COVID-19, the gathering was canceled.

The gathering’s goal was to create a collaborative discussion space for youth to share their experiences, best practices, successes, challenges, and recommendations regarding the revitalization, promotion, and maintenance of Indigenous languages.

One of the organizers of the gathering is Isabelle Zwicker, an Anishinaabe student who is currently at McGill studying Law. In the gathering itself, Zwicker helped facilitate and moderate discussions as well as making sure that the gathering ran smoothly. As well, Vanessa Racine (an Anishinaabe student at McGill and Administrative Coordinator for ISCEI) attended the conference.

Some of the concerns that participants voiced were the lack of visibility of Indigenous languages both in schools as well as in general media.

The ideas, experiences, and comments from the First Nations youth participants were compiled into a report and will be shared with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and other leaders in language revitalization.

Indigenous Student Alliance raises funds for Joyce Echaquan

Over the last couple of weeks, the Indigenous Student Alliance (ISA) raised over 600.00$ to support Joyce Echaquan‘s family. In order to raise the funds, the ISA raffled a purse (see image) made by Karahkwinetha (Sage) Goodleaf, who is a Kanienʼkehá:ka student at McGill University.

The ISA is a community-based group of Indigenous students and allies working to improve student life on campus. They provide integrative support for Indigenous peoples attending McGill University, so that we may connect and share our Indigenous ways of knowing with each other and with non-I

ndigenous peoples in the community. Their vision is to develop networks and partnerships with university student groups and organizations through learning–teaching relationships that foster real and meaningful human development and community solidarity.

Joyce was a member of Atikamekw Nation from Manawan and was supporting seven children, may she rest in power. If you would like to further support Joyce’s family, donations are still being accepted on the GoFundMe page.

 

 

 

“What is a Guest? What is a Settler?”: Ruth Koleszar-Green Guest Lectures INDG 200

On Friday the 9th of October, the students from INDG 200 Introduction to Indigenous Studies welcomed Kanien’kehá:ka professor Ruth Koleszar-Green, from York University, to learn more about what is a guest and what is a settler and to understand further their responsibilities, as students of Indigenous studies, whether they are Indigenous or not.

Ruth Koleszar-Green is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at York University. Ruth uses She/her pronouns. She is the co-chair of the Indigenous Council at York University and the Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives.

You can read professor Koleszar-Green’s paper on the subject here: Ruth Koleszar-Green. 2018. “What is a Guest? What is a Settler?” Cultural and Pedagogical Inquiry, Fall 2018, 10(2): pp.166-177. https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/cpi/index.php/cpi/article/view/29452/21463

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