At the Campus Saint-Jean forum on March 3, a student asked me if I support implementing mandatory Native Studies courses for all students. This is something that I advocated for on the Arts Faculty Council in 2014, but that I neglected to include in my platform. It was a failure on my part to overlook this important aspect of reconciliation.
Beyond this, the question highlighted similar problems within our Students’ Union. Earlier in the week, the Faculty of Native Studies student councilor Nathan Sunday proposed to create a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. In his comments, Sunday said: "Many aboriginal students feel that Students' Union doesn't represent them...It is our fault, as student councilors, that we have let our constituents believe we don't represent them."
Sunday’s comments are meaningful because they convey the uncomfortable truth that, while treaty recognitions are an important step towards reconciliation, they are simply not enough. As student representatives, we must put weight behind our words and take tangible actions that move towards real reconciliation.
I have added the following two promises to my platform. If elected, I will:
Hold a meeting with Indigenous stakeholders on campus within the first 30 days of taking office. Stakeholders include groups such as (but not limited to): the Aboriginal Student Success Centre, Native Studies Student Association and Aboriginal Students’ Council.
If not already enacted, put a motion forward to establish the Truth and Reconciliation Committee within the first 30 days.