U of S focuses on Indigenization with new university plan

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On Oct. 10, the University of Saskatchewan administration presented a new university plan to a crowd in Upper Place Riel. Entitled The University the World Needs, the proposal is said to guide the university’s trajectory until 2025.

The media event began with a prayer from Métis Elder Norman Fleury and included speeches from Jacqueline Ottmann, vice-provost of Indigenous engagement, and U of S President Peter Stoicheff. The strategic plan puts forward a new mission for the university with a vision and values that focus on reconciliation and Indigenization.

According to Stoicheff, the plan is the only one of its kind, built on four principles from a 2016 university policy.

“Our new strategic plan builds on the foundation of our 2016 mission, vision and values document, and the principles — and there are four of them: connectivity, creativity, diversity and sustainability — [are] the core pillars,” Stoicheff said at the media event.

Stoicheff also said that there is a commitment within the plan to develop Indigenization and reconciliation with the Indigenous communities on campus and in the province.

“Carefully woven throughout the plan is our steadfast commitment to Indigenization and answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action,” Stoicheff said.

Peter Stoicheff is gifted a ceremonial blanket during the unveiling of the university plan on Oct. 10.

It has also been said that the strategic plan is the result of continuous contributions from elders, traditional knowledge keepers and the Indigenous communities within campus.

For Ottmann, the university’s new strategic plan and her own position at the U of S, which she entered into on Oct. 1, are the result of previous work from Indigenous and
non-Indigenous communities.

“This is through the longstanding advocacy of Indigenous peoples, of allies and so many people for so many years,” Ottmann said at the event. “Today, we have something that we can be truly proud of, which is the university plan.”

At the conclusion of the media event, Stoicheff and Debra Pozega Osburn, vice-president of university relations, were gifted Métis sashes and were blanketed, thus symbolizing the understanding between the university and the Métis and First Nations communities on campus.

Ottmann says that these gestures speak to the relationship between the U of S and the Indigenous communities at the university.

“It is an honour to be robed in such a way, and it symbolizes the embracing of the communities,” Ottmann said. “We do understand that it does take strong leadership to embark on a new journey and also to lead significant change.”

J.C. Balicanta Narag / Outreach Director

Photo: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Outreach Director