Confederation College Launches Diversity, Equity and Indigenous Lens
Confederation College - Special to The Bulletin
Confederation College launched its new Diversity, Equity and Indigenous Lens Wednesday (January 15), a tool that will help ensure Confederation’s policies, programs and practices are free of elements that knowingly or unknowingly enable the exclusion of Indigenous peoples. The document is an outcome of the recommendations received through the systemic racism review Confederation College undertook in 2018-19 and has been developed in collaboration with DiversiPro.
“We are incredibly proud to have reached this milestone in our work to address systemic racism at Confederation College, which further supports our work to advance Indigenous education across the country,” said Kathleen Lynch, President. “This is an important next step in our journey towards decolonization at the College and we hope our efforts will serve as motivation and inspiration to the many other organizations who walk on this journey with us.”
Confederation’s new Lens document was shared with employees and students, with access also being extended to the community at large, including the College’s fellow members of Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism and Inclusion Coalition.
“We have engaged in this work recognizing our role and responsibilities in a national reconciliation process,” added Jeannine Verdenik, Executive Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Confederation. “We seek to honour and renew our relationships with Indigenous peoples as partners for change, and support others in doing the same. This Lens document can serve as a model that can be adapted to meet each organization’s unique situation and needs. We look forward to collectively advancing efforts towards decolonization in the communities we serve.”
The Diversity, Equity and Indigenous Lens is built upon a common understanding of the colonial history of Canada and seeks to provide best practices, resources and specific guidance for employees of Confederation College to ensure Indigenous perspectives and Ways of Knowing are incorporated and accurately reflected across institutional systems.
At the core of the anti-racism assessment tool is a series of questions that should be applied before, during and after actions taken by a department or other area of the College. Questions centre around the policy, program or practice’s particulars/content, perspectives and principles. If a question is answered with ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know,’ it is a formal acknowledgement that there is more work to do to achieve equity and decolonization.
S. Brenda Small, Vice President of the Centre for Policy and Research in Indigenous Learning at the College, explained what employees would do to move the answers from ‘no’ to ‘yes.’
“Once we have identified that action is required to move towards decolonization, our employees can build on best practices and pursue a variety of paths to achieve a ‘yes’ response to the question,” she said.
The four pillar approaches in moving to a ‘yes’ response include take responsibility and reflect, engage and collaborate, research and educate, and test and evaluate.
“What we want all of our employees to understand is that the work will be challenging, but the rewards will be great and we don’t expect perfection, but we will strive to achieve it,” said Small. “We don’t want them to be afraid to try, so we are encouraging them to start a dialogue and seek feedback, knowing they will be supported in their efforts.”
To download and review Confederation College’s Diversity, Equity and Indigenous Lens, visit www.confederationcollege.ca/Lens.