Call to Action from the Provost’s Taskforce on Indigenous Learning

Friday, February 16, 2018

We, the undersigned members of the Provost’s Taskforce on Indigenous Learning, join together to express our solidarity with the family of Colten Boushie, the Plains Cree/Nehiyiw community of Red Pheasant First Nation, and Indigenous people across Canada who are reeling this week in shock, grief, anger and despair following the acquittal of Gerald Stanley. We support President Diamond’s statement issued earlier this week, the communication from Idle No More to Canadian universities, as well as the communication from Universities Canada.

We condemn in the strongest terms the systemic racism that has given Canadians a legal system that is set up against Indigenous people, that ignores Indigenous rights, and that all too often, allows Indigenous children and youth to bear the brunt of white privilege and colonial violence. 

We, the undersigned, call on you, the faculty, students and staff of OCAD U, to join us in the work of creating a different kind of university community and a different kind of country — one where honest exchange and mutual respect can help us understand and undo the racist ideology and colonial attitudes that form Canada’s constitutional foundation and legal structure.

This will be hard work. The true history of Indigenous/Settler relations in Canada is difficult knowledge and not easy to hear. OCAD U began this work in 2008 when it committed to Indigenous learning and reconciliation by establishing the Indigenous Visual Culture program. This led to curriculum reform, Indigenous faculty hires, the development of the INVC student centre, and a growing awareness that we, as individuals and as a community, are responsible for making change and bringing about lasting justice; that we are in fact all — yes, all of us — treaty people. OCAD U’s Academic Plan continues this important work with its commitment to Indigenous learning. Courses are available, information is accessible, and many on campus are increasingly aware of the issues and are willing to discuss these matters. Let us talk together.

Thus we call on you to join us in this work! We ask you to support us this week as we, the Indigenous faculty, students, and staff among you, as well as our non-Indigenous allies, struggle to come to terms with yet another devastating failure of justice. We ask you to reach out to those around you who may be facing similar physical, psychological or traumatic crises. Above all, we urge you to support us as we move forward to seize this opportunity, to activate our sorrow and anger, to build a truer, stronger solidarity and a truer, stronger era of justice in our country.


Francisco Alvarez, Dorene & Peter Milligan Executive Director, OCAD U Galleries
Jason Baerg, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Art
Tony Belcourt, Co-Chair, Aboriginal Education Council
Christine Crosbie, Manager, Communications & Media
Valerie De Souza, Manager, University Governance
Bonnie Devine, Anishinaabe, Associate Professor, Founding Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture, Co-Chair of Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning
Kaiatanoron Dumoulin Bush, Indigenous Student Representative - OCAD U Student Union, Indigenous Student Association Co-President
Megan Feheley, Indigenous Student Association Co-President
Susan Ferguson, Director, Writing & Learning Centre
Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International
Richard Fung, Professor, Faculty of Art
David M. General, Mentor/Advisor, INVC Student Centre
Melissa General, Manager, INVC Student Centre
Shawna Howe, Indigenous Student Counsellor, INVC Student Centre
Caroline Seck Langill, Dean, Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Ashok Mathur, Ph.D., Dean, Graduate Studies 
Gerald McMaster, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Visual Culture & Curatorial Practice
Ana Morningstar, Member of the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning
Howard Munroe, Assistant Professor, M.Ed B.Ed BDes (Distinction) Diploma
Tannis Nielsen, M.V.S (Métis) TIS-Lecturer 
Lewis Nicholson, Associate Professor
Connor Pion, Student Success Coordinator, INVC Student Centre
Diane Pugen, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art
Ryan Rice, Kanien’kehá:ka Delaney Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture
Amanda Robertson-Hébert, Program Assistant Xpace Cultural Centre
Gillian Siddall, Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Co-Chair of Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning
Vlad Spicanovic, Dean, Faculty of Art
Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall [African American], Dean, Faculty of Design and ally to the Indigenous struggle
Katheryn Wabegijig, Indigenous Student Recruiter, INVC
b.h. Yael, Professor, Faculty of Art, Integrated Media and Art & Social Change, Chair of Senate

Need support? 
OCAD University Health & Wellness Centre
Indigenous Student Services

Want more information about the case?
Idle No More: Discussion guide for Colten Boushie    
CBC: What happened on Gerald Stanley's farm the day Colten Boushie was shot, as told by witnesses
Maclean’s: Canada’s long road to the Colten Boushie verdict

Want more information about Indigenous issues and activism?
Idle No More
National Enquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Chiefs of Ontario
Métis Nation of Ontario
Truth and Reconciliation Commission



Statement from President Diamond on Colten Boushie

Monday, February 12, 2018

On behalf of OCAD University, I offer deep condolences to the Baptiste/Boushie family and the people of Red Pheasant Reserve, and mourn the loss of a young man described by his mother as gentle and optimistic. We agree with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould when she says “Canada must do better.” It is essential for the judicial system to ensure a fair, just and equitable legal process for all Indigenous people of all ages.  

At this time, our hearts also go out to our Indigenous students, faculty and staff who are deeply affected by Friday’s verdict and its implications.

OCAD University recognizes the urgency for us all, as allies and an institution, to undertake meaningful actions of social justice through art and design education. 

OCAD University acknowledges the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat, who are the original owners and custodians of the land on which we stand.