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Annual Report 2018

Seeking the truth

There is an evocative Wolastoqey word, piluwitahasuwawsuwakon, that means “allowing your thinking to change so that action will follow in a good way toward truth.” UNB is in a privileged position to promote Indigenous culture and has been consulting with our university community to find a way to do better, to change, and to seek truth.

As part of UNB’s commitment to the process of reconciliation, the University has developed its Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Strategic Action Plan. The national Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for a bridging of the educational attainment gap within one generation, and such a call resonates with us as leaders in education.

UNB’s TRC action plan was drafted in consultation with key stakeholders throughout our communities, including UNB’s Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre. It identifies short- to long-term priorities for rightful recognition of Indigenous peoples and cultures on our campuses, which themselves lie on traditional Wolastoqey land and aims to increase the presence and visibility of Indigenous leadership, knowledge and culture across our campuses.

The first two initiatives outlined in this 10-point plan – establishing an Indigenous Advisory Council and appointing an Indigenous Lead Piluwitahasuwin (Assistant Vice-President, Indigenous Engagement) will propel these initiatives forward and promote change toward truth.

The Piluwitahasuwin will bring her vision and passion to the University and will work with the soon-to-be appointed advisory council and members of the UNB community on the remainder of the initiatives, which include:

  • The expansion of Indigenous content in our curriculum;
  • The enhancement of our recruitment of Indigenous students, faculty and staff;
  • Ensuring experiential education opportunities are accessible and promoted to Indigenous students, and work to create opportunities in First Nations communities for all of our students;
  • Measures to incorporate more Indigenous culture on our campuses;
  • The establishment of the Wabanaki Learning Centre.

Elder Opolahsomuwehs (Imelda Perley), UNB’s Elder in residence, has described the TRC Strategic Action Plan as a Sacred Bundle, a path with responsibilities, obligations, and guidance for action.