Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Initiatives Formed
January 14, 2014 - Campus Bulletin
University of Guelph President Alastair Summerlee has created a new President’s Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Initiatives, aimed at improving representation of Aboriginal learners, cultural awareness and inclusiveness.
U of G has worked with aboriginal communities for many years to build partnerships and identify and address barriers to education, Summerlee says. In 2003, the University opened the Aboriginal Resource Centre, which supports First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners and delivers educational programming on Aboriginal cultures and worldviews.
Since then, aboriginal enrolment at Guelph has more than quadrupled. As well, many faculty members have integrated aboriginal themes into course content, class projects and research.
“We are proud of the progress we have made and the relationships we have developed with aboriginal communities,” Summerlee says. “But most of these activities have been in isolation and without the benefit of a co-ordinated strategy. We need to do more.”
Cultural barriers still exist, he says. In Ontario, nine per cent of the aboriginal population has a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31 per cent of non-aboriginal people.
“We need to do our part to identify gaps, eliminate barriers, strengthen relationships and highlight successes.”
The committee will meet for the first time Jan. 24. Its mandate is to identify, develop and advance strategic institutional priorities in order to achieve the following:
- Promote greater awareness and recognition, and improve cross-cultural understanding;
- Improve accessibility and participation of Aboriginal Peoples in post-secondary education;
- Promote greater inclusiveness of aboriginal cultures, knowledge and views in programs and research;
- Advance aboriginal research and ethics; and
- Foster and sustain relationships between U of G and aboriginal communities.
Chaired by Summerlee, the committee will include elders and members of the aboriginal community; aboriginal students; the associate vice-presidents of research, academics and student affairs; and registrarial staff.
Three standing subcommittees will focus on teaching and learning; research and ethics; and cultural awareness and support of Aboriginal learners.