The reaction to recent news stories about the discovery of the unmarked graves of hundreds (and as time goes on probably thousands) of indigenous children who were former attendees of residential schools has been one of shock and horror and profound sadness.  I wrote a piece about it on LinkedIn – No Words.  Those who have read the Truth and Reconciliation Report say that no one who read the TRC Report would have been shocked.  However, many of us have not read the report, or at least not all of it, and many of us were shocked.  In addition to the other reactions we have had to the news about these poor children and their families, there is anger and shame and in many a renewed sense of commitment to doing more.

I believe that universities are committed to change and I believe that positive change is being made. Is it enough? Are universities occupying the leadership role they should be occupying to advance Reconciliation? I’m not sure about that so this column is a reminder, if we need one, to focus on TRC.

What Should You Know about TRC ?

You should know that the TRC Report specifically acknowledges the important role that education has in advancing Reconciliation. Calls to Action numbered 62 through 65 are focused on education and reconciliation.  You should also know that in response to these Calls to Action, the almost one hundred members of Universities Canada have committed to thirteen principles.  See details here.  Familiarize yourself with these documents.  Educate yourself about what other universities are doing.  Subscribe to the Indigenous Top Ten provided by Academica

What are Your University’s Governing Bodies Doing to Ensure that Your University is Advancing Reconciliation?

 As someone involved in university governance whether as a university board member or a member of an academic governing body, you are directly in a position to ensure that your university is actively engaged in Reconciliation.

Take a test right now:

  • What do you know about what your university is doing to advance Reconciliation?
  • How many times has your university board or academic governing body discussed Truth and Reconciliation and the governing body’s role in advancing Reconciliation?
  • How does your board or academic governing body monitor progress against the commitments made by your university to advancing the TRC Calls to Action?
  • How is your university living the principles to which all Universities Canada members committed?

There are many more questions that could be asked of you but these will quickly give you a sense of whether your board or academic governing body is playing the role it should be playing to oversee the university’s commitment to advancing Reconciliation.  It is beyond time for action to create real change.

Takeaway: University governing bodies have roles to play in overseeing the work of universities to advance TRC.  If your board or academic governing body isn’t playing that role, it should be.