Building on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s landmark report, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi struck a Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education in 2016. Its mandate was to propose concrete initiatives that would better integrate Indigenous perspectives and experiences into all facets of McGill’s academic mission, and help McGill to advance the TRC’s calls to action.
On 21 June 2017 – National Indigenous People’s Day – the Task Force’s Final Report was published. It set out 52 calls to action, challenging the University and all McGillians to “pursue an unedited truth about its historical and contemporary relationship with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples to meaningfully inform its goal of reconciliation.”
Of those 52 action items, nearly one-third have been completed so far, ranging from establishment of the Indigenous Initiatives Unit to new scholarships for Indigenous students, the acknowledgement of the traditional territory on which the University is located, recruitment of several Indigenous professors and the renaming of McGill’s men’s varsity teams. As well, McGill’s Campus Master Plan, approved in 2019, put forth specific orientations for Indigenous representation on campus with the intention of making McGill’s campuses hospitable and compassionate places for Indigenous peoples in support of reconciliation. Other action items are in progress.
The Indigenous Studies and Community Engagement Initiative, which supports the growth of McGill’s Indigenous Studies Program, stemmed from the Task Force recommendations as well, supported by a US$1.25 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.