Lori Lee Pike
Indigenization. Reconciliation. If you have heard these terms before but are not quite sure exactly what they mean, you are not alone. These oft-repeated words are perhaps as misunderstood as they are popular in the world today.
Recently, Grenfell Campus hosted several sessions to begin a series of conversations that will ultimately lead to defining these terms and what they mean for Memorial University moving forward. Some of the sessions included Grenfell faculty and staff, with one large session that included a group of Mi'kmaw leaders from around the island. These preliminary gatherings occurred because Memorial University has embarked on a process to create a university indigenization strategy, and an ongoing part of this process is to define what indigenization means for Memorial University and to understand it as it relates to reconciliation.
The most common question in the sessions held for faculty and staff was, "What does indigenization mean, anyway?" The short answer to that is that we won't be certain until we've spent the time discussing it with a variety of stakeholders. What indigenization means at Memorial University may not be exactly the same as what it means at the University of Manitoba, or at the University of British Columbia. In this province, we have our own unique history that includes a beautiful diversity of Indigenous peoples, and we hope that will be reflected in our conversations and eventual definition.
The session for Mi'kmaw leaders included about twenty people from a variety of areas including Bay St. George, the Northern Peninsula, Corner Brook, and Central Newfoundland. Rather than define indigenization within the university, write the strategic plan, and then share it with the community for consultation, the university wants the conversation to start with Indigenous people. Out of this initial session, we will create a timeline for visiting as many western Newfoundland communities as possible, in ways that work best for those individual communities. A similar process will unfold in other parts of the island and in Labrador.
These conversations will take place across the province over the next several months, and we hope you will join us. If you would like more information on how you may contribute to this process, please contact us at email@example.com or (709) 639-4606. This is your province, and Grenfell is your campus.