Confederation College took an important next step in its decolonization journey with the release of its Decolonization Report on National Indigenous Peoples Day. The report details how the College will address the recommendations from its Systemic Racism Review, and includes a work plan for implementation.
“This Report is a result of considerable effort by a dedicated team known as the Decolonization Committee,” said Kathleen Lynch, President. “The Committee spent a great deal of time reflecting on the recommendations from our review to ensure that our next steps are strategic and courageous in the journey to reconciliation and decolonization. I thank the Committee for their contribution to provide a roadmap for this work and look forward to engaging with our entire College community to complete the work they have outlined. This furthers our longstanding commitment to Indigenous learning, and the direction in our Strategic Plan.”
The Systemic Racism Review began in the spring of 2018 with a review of College policies and practices. It was conducted by DiversiPro Inc., a Toronto-based diversity and inclusion organizational development firm with 20 years of experience working with organizations across Canada and internationally. Their final report was provided to the College in late 2019 and the Decolonization Committee began its work in early 2020. DiversiPro’s final report noted 24 recommendations related to policies and practices at Confederation College. The Committee reviewed each of these recommendations and through the Decolonization Report, provided suggestions for implementation.
The Committee was comprised of representatives from the College’s three employee constituencies and its student body, including a balance of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Committee Co-Chair S. Brenda Small, the College’s Vice President of Negahneewin Research Centre, explained the Committee’s approach.
“The decision-making process for the Committee relied on consensus, requiring active engagement and full participation of Committee members,” said Small. “For many, this was their first time following a consensus-based process, so it represented a valuable learning opportunity for everyone and acted as a model for us to apply across the College. Through our Committee membership and our approach to the work, it was important to create conditions whereby honest cross-cultural dialogue could take place, reflecting the worldviews, lived experiences and scholarly perspectives of all members. As a result of this conscious design, we have successfully developed a comprehensive and robust report.”
The work plan created to address the policy recommendations includes education and capacity building, data collection, increased support students, and the development of new or renewed policies surrounding diversity, inclusion, social media, human rights and decolonization. The work plan also addresses practice recommendations including relationships with third-party vendors, review of existing complaints processes, communication and human resources practices, as well as learning and development. Accountability and consultation are also described as important pillars of this work.
Prior to the establishment of the Committee, Confederation took several actions to begin the work of addressing DiversiPro’s recommendations. The College hired an Equity and Human Rights Advisor, established a new anti-racism policy and complaints process, developed a human rights section on its website, and launched the Diversity, Equity and Indigenous Lens.
“We are pleased with what we have achieved so far, and acknowledge that there is considerable work to be performed and much of it will not be easy,” said Lynch. “The Decolonization Report is our roadmap for the next leg of our journey, but we know it is only the beginning of what we have left to do; there is no end to this work. We proudly walk forth together with our employees, students and community partners.”
The College will share annual reports to highlight its progress with the work plan. To review Confederation College’s Decolonization Report, visit www.confederationcollege.ca/decolonization