Volume 84. Issue 2

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pp.3. UOSU Food bank struggling to meet high demand

pp.3. Protection called on RBC protest during 101 week

pp.4. What you missed from the September 17th UOSU BOD meeting


pp.5. The timely recreation of Captain O’Halloran’s outfit

pp.5. Sharing and learning through music

pp.6. Storytelling and reconciliation


pp.8. Progress made on Sports and Reconciliation recommendations, but other progress on Truth and Reconciliation lags behind


pp.9. Giving Indigenuos peoples a voice in the scientific community


pp.10. Bilingualism: A barrier for expanding Indigenous language courses at U of O

— Algonquin Elder and the 15th Chancellor of the university of Ottawa, Claudette Commanda.

(Source: CBC)

ISSUE 2, SEptember 2023
“Canada must heal on the foundation of Indigenous knowledge and wisdom and love and kindness and respect,[...]
Take this beautiful gift that we’re offering you. Learn. Listen. And we’ll walk together, to turn this country into a beautiful country for all our children.”
2 thefulcrum.ca

UOSU Food bank struggling to meet high demand

Demands exceeding current supplies

The University of Ottawa Students’ Union-Ottawa (UOSU) Food Bank (run in partnership with the Ottawa Food Bank) has been experiencing shortages and increasingly more demands than are able to be met.

On August 21st, the Ottawa Food Bank announced that it is low on food, and was forced to send away scheduled volunteers.

The UOSU Food Cupboad has been facing similar challenges, experiencing a surplus of demands this past year too large to be met with their current capacity and supply rate. Compared to 2022-2023, they have had a “258 [per cent] increase” in students accessing their service.

Abraham Tabo, the UOSU Food Bank coordinator, commented on the current situation.

“we have way more students coming to… the food bank than the food… we had available… the past year, we’ve had to like adjust[:] up our budgets…[and] up our storage capacity to be able to… meet this increasing demand of grocery items.”

Joyce Williams, the UOSU equity commissioner, spoke more on why this was happening. “the food bank was receiving a lot of traffic, and the food was running out very quickly, which to us meant that they weren’t getting enough supplies in time.”

The inability to meet the current needs has led students to take proactive efforts at the cost of their time. “[When we open on Monday at 11 am], we already have a huge line of students waiting for us,” Tabo continued, “some of them tell us that they’ve been here since 9 am… a lot of them have classes right after so

just the waiting time for them is really not favorable.”

In response, Williams and Tabo relayed some of the effective measures recently added, as well as some potential additions still in the planning stages.

To begin, the bank has received an increased budget. “last fall, we were solely reliant on the Ottawa food banks delivered so they’re every week, they give us a good amount of food on Fridays. And so we were only reliant on their donations, but now we’ve also received a budget from the university. So it’s a considerable amount, which will help us with our second deliveries on Wednesdays.” Tabo commented.

Second, they are trying to make the system more efficient. Williams shared: “We [UOSU] were in talks with Abraham about possibly potentially

Protection called on RBC protest during 101 Week

Protection was called on University of Ottawa students protesting RBC on campus during 101 Week. Organized promptly by advocacy commissioner for the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) Maisy Elspeth after witnessing an RBC stand at the U of O’s clubs fair, the protest was made up of roughly five students.

After witnessing RBC present at the clubs fair, Elspeth expressed

confusion and was told by conventions and reservations that it was a part of a section reserved for the university’s adjoining wellness fair. When Elspeth asked how RBC was related to wellness, she was told that they were promoting financial wellness.

“I told the person who was there that as much as financial wellness is one thing, I think planet wellness is also one thing, and the planet is not doing too good,” said Elspeth.

After quickly printing out information

making part of the food bank, food collection system automated, basically kind of like how it worked back during COVID, where it was optional at the time, but you would have to pick the products that you wanted through the food bank website, and then that get your order and pack your stuff. So by the time you get to the food bank, all your food is ready. And that could pick up and go rather than lining up because the lines tend to be very long to access the food bank, espe-

cially when fresh produce comes in. So I think it’d be a great idea we’ll still need to workshop it.”

There are efforts being made to support students. “a lot of students on campus don’t know that there is a food bank here to help them,” Tabo continued, “[We’re trying to] let as many students know about the food bank so we can help them as best as we can.”

The UOSU Food Bank was open as of Sept 19.

on RBC and inviting students there, Elspeth was joined by James Adair, a Social science director for the UOSU Board of Directors and an active advocate of the RBC off-campus movement.

While protesting, Elspeth’s picture was taken by RBC staff, and she was told that staff had the ability to call the police on the protest.

“When we were standing there and talking to people, [RBC staff] were saying things like ‘these kids don’t understand, we

need to do a gradual transition, they haven’t even read the RBC policy on fossil fuels’,” said Adair.

At one point when Elspeth briefly left to get more supplies for the protest, Adair heard staff say to “call protection now, the bitchy one is gone.”

Once protection showed up, they spoke with RBC staff first, and then with protestors.

“[Protection told us], they had no problem with what we were doing, they just reminded us to

not block the table and were fine with where we were standing. RBC kind of stopped being vocal after that,” said Elspeth.

Shana Quesnel, co-president of Climate Justice Climatique uOttawa (CJCUO) did not think it was surprising that RBC called security on the protest, and described it as one of the ways RBC continues to reinforce violence.

“They’ve called the police on us last year for a similar thing, and I think it’s really ridiculous

NEWS EDITOR Shailee Shah news@thefulcrum.ca NEWS EDITOR Kavi Vidya Achar news.editor@thefulcrum.ca
Nicholas Socholotiuk Shailee Shah The UOSU Food Bank was open as of Sept 19. Photo: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum.

because all we’re doing is giving information to students. We canvas in front of the bank, we’ve never blocked the entrance completely. And they still have no problem calling the police on us,” said Quesnel. Quesnel also recalled that RBC has generally been aggressive when it comes to students raising awareness. “It’s as if they’re forgetting that they’re coming on our campus,” said Quesnel. “We’re completely allowed to do this. It’s our

campus. They took [what once was] a student study lounge in the UCU building, which is supposed to be the student union building.

Quesnel also pointed to Elspeth and Adair’s support for CJCUO and anti-RBC work as incredibly supportive.

“We have had an advocacy commissioner that has not been as responsive in the past or as open to hear our concerns even. So it’s been a really great change with [Els-

peth and Adair], the two of them have been really great to work with, and also they’ve really been keeping us in the loop when it comes to those things,” said Quesnel. CJCUO is planning on holding another anti-RBC on-campus event sometime in October and recommends that students follow their social media for more information on upcoming events.

What you missed from the September 17th UOSU BOD meeting

The University of Ottawa Students’ Union’s (UOSU) Board of Directors (BOD) met for their monthly meeting on Sept. 17. Called to order at 1:07 p.m. and adjourning just after 5:45 p.m., the meeting was the shortest BOD meeting of the term thus far.

Motion A) Code of Conduct

The first and most controversial motion of the day was brought by Common law director and chair of the governance committee Gabrielle Muzychka. Debate on the motion arguably began in the days before the meeting when Max Christie began a social media campaign; he alerted students to sections of the proposed code of conduct that he believed would limit the freedom of expression of directors of the board.

Students responded to the proposed code of conduct with concern.

Christie took issue with sections, 2.4., and 2.6 of the proposed code of conduct,

moving to amend the code and explaining that the original code would essentially force him to resign from the board.

Legal counsel for UOSU, Katie Black, was present to address some concerns and provide a well-versed legal opinion. Black shared, anecdotally, her own experience rejecting a spot on the board of an organization, claiming she wanted to remain able to criticize that board. Christie responded that his service on the board was “a form of harm reduction”.

Christie’s amendment passed and the amended motion was adopted.

Motion B) Committee assignment change

This motion was brought to remove Science director Abdur Rehman Khan from the elections committee due to unexplained absences. Another committee chair asked to amend the motion to include Khan’s removal from the clubs committee for the same reason. This motion passed with unanimous consent.

Motion C) Flying squad

Brought by Social Sciences director James Adair, this motion proposed that the UOSU Advocacy committee begin to investigate the feasibility of the Union establishing a volunteer “flying squad”. Adair’s motion explained that the flying squad would be a response team of volunteer uOttawa students, who would be trained in effective counter-protesting, safety, and be alerted to respond to various groups and demonstrations that go against our values and positions in and around campus”. This motion passed.

Motion D) Genocide denial position

Brought by Adair, this motion sought to adopt a position as a Union reading: “[UOSU] strongly affirms that genocide denial goes against its core values. This includes active denial and actions which seek to diminish or negate the horrors of genocide, including but not limited to false equivalencies, allegations of exaggeration, or dismissing it as part of history while ignoring their current mod-

ern effects. Genocides include those recognized by the Parliament of Canada, as well as the genocide of Indigenous people across North America.”

This motion was amended to broaden the definition of genocide to include “those recognized by significant scholars as genocides according to the legal definitions of the 1948 United Nations ‘Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide’, and the genocide of Indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere.”

Motion E) Recording of Board meetings

Brought by Christie this was a motion to record and make recording publicly available within seven days of a BOD meeting, passed with unanimous consent.

Omnibus of Motions H through L

An Omnibus motioned by Adair saw Motions H through L be voted on as a package, the motion to omnibus the meeting’s remaining motions passed unanimously. Christie made an attempt to externalize motion K (a

motion to rename the Fall general assembly to the Autumn general assembly) but failed to receive a seconder for the motion to externalize. The motions voted on as one, passed unanimously with one abstention.

Upcoming for UOSU By elections

The nomination period for UOSU’s by-elections has now closed. The campaign period will run from September 30 to October 13. The voting period will run from October 9 to 13 and will see the first offering of in-person voting in a UOSU election since 2019. Christie has staked his future with the union on the elections turnout, stating he will resign should the union’s election turnout not reach 5 per cent (the last general election had a 3.8 per cent).

Autumn General Assembly (AGA)

By-election results will be ratified at the union’s AGA is set to be held Nov 11.

4 thefulcrum.ca
“I serve on this board as a form of harm reduction” – Max Christie
– With files from Shailee Shah and Kavi Vidya Achar Bridget Coady James Adair and Maisy Elspeth. Photo: Shailee Shah/Fulcrum.


The timely recreation of Captain O’Halloran’s outfit

Metepenagiag Heritage Park has recreated Captain O’Halloran’s outfit–and this time the Indigenous artists are credited

Reclaiming art is a powerful way to restructure the narrative of an event.

Several Indigenous artists, in partnership with Metepenagiag Heritage Park, have collaborated on the recreation of Captain O’Halloran’s outfit in an attempt to center the work, artistry, and effort of their ancestors.

Captain O’Halloran was studying Mi’kmaq language and culture and brought back to London a book of Mik’maq hieroglyphic prayers and drawings. In recognition of his time spent with the people, the captain was gifted an outfit that was created by three anonymous Mi’kmaq women.

The original outfit is housed at the Canadian Museum of History and was originally gifted to Captain Henry Dunn

O’Halloran of the British Army’s 69th Regiment of Foot in the early 1840s. The replica was created by artists and designers Sgoagani Mye Wecenisqon from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, Oakley Wysote Gray from Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation, and Ingrid Brooks from Indian Island First

tention to the beading and silk work featured on the costume.

These two outfits were reunited in honour of a discussion with the artists at the Canadian Museum of History on Sept. 19. Since the museum is a national institution people joined from all over the country, in person and via

the Canadian Museum of History, introduced Elder Claudette Commanda to address the small crowd gathered. Elder Commanda expressed that it was a “blessing and honour to…come together to celebrate the history of the Mi’kmaq people”.

Elder Commanda yields to the stage a group

Nation. They collaborated on the delicate design, paying tribute to the ancestors who paid close at-

Sharing and learning through music

the online live stream.

Caroline Dromaguet, President and Chief Executive Officer of

NAC Hosts 4-Day Cross-Cultural Education Event

From Sept. 1114, the National Arts Centre (NAC) hosted four nights of presentations and discussions on the topic of cross-cultural music education.

The event was made possible through the efforts of the NAC’s Arts Alive Program, which seeks to educate youth and provide educators with resources they can implement in their own classrooms.

The series fea-

tured two music educators (one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous) who recounted their experiences teaching together. Over the course of four days, they also shared how they teach cross-cultural creativity in their music classrooms.

Monday Monday saw educators across the country call in to listen to Cree musician Walter MacDonald White Bear and classical trumpet player Samantha Whelan Kotka teach an

informative class on the significance of music and storytelling in cross-cultural education.

Of the discussions, the topic of TwoEyed Seeing was very meaningful to the theme of the 4-day event. In the words of Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall, TwoEyed Seeing is “learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing and from the other eye with the strengths of Western ways of knowing and to using both of these eyes

of drummers who play a deeply emotional song in honour of the event. President Dormaguet takes the

stage once again to present the panel of artists. When discussing the importance of this project it is acknowledged that this is a story two centuries in the making and the recreation of the outfit offers the opportunity to center the artistry of Indigenous peoples and not the colonial officer. Overall, this project shifts the narrative to Mi’kmaq culture. In the panel section of the event, Salina Kemp, the curator of Eastern Ethnology, asks the artists to explain their experiences around studying and reproducing this outfit. The artists largely echoed that the process involved a lot of experimenting and self-teaching. Evidently, reconnection with history is not perfect, and sometimes messy, but essential for uniting a people.

together.” This is a theme we were encouraged to incorporate both ways into our learning.

One of the highlights of Monday night was MacDonald and Kotka leading the call through an improvised poetry lesson, one of the lessons they have used in their classrooms. In the session, participants were shown art from First Nations artist Alex Janvier, and asked to write a poem about it. After a couple of minutes, Kotka read the poems aloud with MacDonald

performing improvisations with each passage. To highlight the people who these poems came from everyone would say ‘they speak to me’ in Cree at the end of each poem.


The next evening featured Iqaluit visual artist and throat singer Olivia Chislett alongside ethnomusicologist and music educator Dr. Mary Piercey-Lewis as they guided yet another large virtual audience through teaching the art of Inuit music.

Arts EDITOR Sydney Grenier arts@thefulcrum.ca
Sydney Grenier Nicholas Socholotiuk The original outfit was created in the early 1840s by three unknown Mi’kmaq women. Photo: Canadian Museum of Nature/Provided

Some of the key discussions during Tuesday’s session included efforts to forward the Nunavut music curriculum, putting certain Indigenous music to documented notation, and the role combining cultural styles can play in music exploration as education.

An adjacent topic that was brought up in conversations about throat singing was the importance of education respecting cultural traditions. As echoed through all sessions, educators must be respectful of what music they share and not cross cultural boundaries.

Wednesday Wednesday’s session was led by Mi’kmaq musician, danc-

er, and author Richard (Eagle Dancer) Pellissier-Lush and his co-educator, multidisciplinary educator of the arts, and professional percussionist Ryan E. Drew.

Pellissier-Lush and Drew discussed a wide array of topics, including the incorporation of drumming in the classroom, musical trail walks, and more.

One topic that received emphasis was inquiry-based learning and being a “curious percussionist”, letting questions guide the learning.


The last day of the event was an open panel discussion, featuring all educators over the past three events. The NAC is currently in the process of

Storytelling and reconciliation

making the livestream accessible.


The Fulcrum touched base with Ryan Drew, one of the coordinators and educators at the event. Drew illustrated the importance of music education that is respectful of cultural traditions, some of which can only be properly taught from an Indigenous perspective.

“Cross-Cultural or collaborative teaching involves a variety of voices. And so I realized that I am certainly not enough to create an educational experience that is representative of diverse voices,” he said.

“And so we talk about bringing, and inviting and having Indigenous

voices into the classroom, especially when speaking about Indigenous music traditions.”

A difficult question that remains regards how educators should approach cross-cultural music education. “With a series like this, we immediately recognize that there are a tremendous diversity in the voices, opinions, perspectives, ideologies in how, for example, a settler heritage musician like myself should approach Indigeneity in the classroom,” Drew continued.

“From a cross-cultural lens, specifically, I try and look at the different rules that I’ve come to learn in my own music making. And those rules are often a result of your classical greats in his-

In the modern format of movies and TV, storytelling has been given new life

tire family lines, stories of travels, struggles, and perseverance are the stories I have in mind.

tory, classical music greats like Mozart and Beethoven, and how that shapes my understanding of music today. And so, to have increased perspective, not only allows me to explore new musical traditions and cultures but also allows me to reimagine and reinterpret these composers or classical musicians that I studied for a long time.”

The NAC has a variety of resources for academics to use. Educators can access these resources on their website. “They’re really great to integrate into the classroom. They stimulate creativity, learning in different ways through participation.”

Stories that contain en-

Denial of one’s

history as a people has been used as a weapon of cultural genocide throughout history. And what is history if not a collection

of preserved stories?

We have seen how those who write down their stories are prioritized. We have seen

6 thefulcrum.ca
Stories are powerful. And I am not just talking about that one story your friend tells that gets you in stitches every time — though I am a big fan of those stories too.
Sydney Grenier On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, students should engage with media created by Indigenous Peoples. Photo: Aaron Hemens/The Fulcrum.

spoken stories swept under the rug of the colonial house we call ‘Canada’.

In the modern format of movies and TV, storytelling has been given new life. This media is accessible to most and presents a unique feature–a glimpse into the lives of others.

On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I urge students to engage with the media created by Indigenous Peoples to encourage empathy and understanding, all of which contribute to a more equitable society.

Reservation Dogs (Available on Disney +)

CW: mention of suicide

Created by Taika Waititi, this comedy sitcom recounts to story of four Native American teens growing up on an Oklahoma reservation. The show was directed by Sterlin Harjo, Blackhorse Lowe, and others.

Many young actors such as Devery Jacobs and D’Pharaoh Woon-ATai were widely acknowledged for their work on the show. Jacobs was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

Though this show takes place in Oklahoma, it highlights that the border between ‘Canada’ and ‘America’ is arbitrary and, in fact, Turtle Island is home to diverse peoples. Also, it’s hilarious and heartwarming.

Grizzlies (Available on Netflix)

CW: mention of suicide

The Grizzlies is a stunning film based on a true story about Russ Sheppard who goes to Kugluktuk, NU, to teach and finds the community faces astounding challenges as a result of colonialism such

as the teen suicide epidemic.

Russ starts a lacrosse program and gradually gains his pupils’ trust. The teens discover a feeling of pride and purpose in themselves and their community when they work together.

Notable crew members include Inuk producers Stacey Aglok MacDonald and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril.

Beans (Available on Crave)

This 2020 movie directed by Tracey Deer (Mohawk) recounts the 1990 Mohawk Resistance at Kanehsatà:ke (also known as the Oka Crisis), a 78-day standoff between Indigenous land defenders, Quebec police, the RCMP, and the Canadian military over the intended construction of a golf course on top of a Mohawk burial ground.

These events drive twelve-year-old Tekehentahkhwa (nicknamed “Beans”) into an early coming of age, as her innocence evolves to rage over the persecution of her people.

Night Raiders (Available on Crave)

Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet (Cree/Métis), is a gripping dystopian-thriller based on a metaphor for the residential school system. It tells the narrative of Niska, a Cree mother who is desperate to save her daughter from a state-run forced re-education camp as she journeys through a wartorn Turtle Island.

Niska joins forces with a gang of underground resistance fighters attempting to rescue their children and defend their future.

Atticus Finch said, “You never really

understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and

walk around in it”. Movies can provide that opportunity.

Image: Toronto Outdoor Picture Show/Provided. Image: Hulu/Provided.

Progress made on Sports and Reconciliation recommendations, but other progress on Truth and Reconciliation lags behind

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) rated the government as having made “significant progress” on these Sports and Reconciliation recommendations.

In Dec. 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report on their 7-year investigation of residential schools, former students, their families, and communities. Included in the report were 94 calls to action. These were actionable policy recommendations given to the federal government that aimed to accomplish two things: acknowledge the horrifying history of the residential system in Canada, and to create systems to prevent similar abuses from happening again.

The calls to action can be split into six categories: child welfare, education, language and culture, health, justice, and reconciliation. I’ll be

made “significant progress” on these Sports and Reconciliation recommendations.

I’ll detail the five calls to action below, along with their progress.

87. Tell the stories of Aboriginal athletes in history

A digital book by Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Order of Sport detailing the history and contributions of Indigenous athletes in Canadian sport was released in 2021. The book is available online, and features athletes such as Gaylord Powless, Bryan Trottier, Sharon Anne and Shirley Anne Firth, and Colette Bourgonje. It also features a section on famed distance runner Tom Longboat, the creation of the Tom Longboat award, and former award winners. The CTA

Canada committed ongoing support for culturally relevant sport programming for Indigenous youth, which includes funding for the North American Indigenous Games every four years. The 2023 Games took place in the Halifax region in July, including on some First Nation reserves. 16 sports were played in total, including traditional Indigenous disciplines like lacrosse, canoeing and kayaking, and archery. All participants were between the ages of 13 and 19. Ontario took home gold in the Men’s 16U and 19U lacrosse events, and silver in the Women’s 19U.

89. Amend the Physical Activity and Sport Act to support reconciliation by ensuring that policies to promote physical activity

tem, are inclusive of Aboriginal peoples.

In consultation with the Aboriginal Sport Centre, the government is investing in an Aboriginal Sport Circle for the development of a National Indigenous Sport Strategy. The consultation process is slated to be completed in 2024, and will deliver a framework for the implementation of this Call to Action.

90. Ensure that national sports policies, programs, and initiatives are inclusive of Aboriginal Peoples.

After the release of the TRC, Sport Canada reinstated funding to the aforementioned Aboriginal Sport Centre. The organization exists to support the “health and wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples and communities through participation in sport, physical activity, and recreation”. Find more information about their mission here.

91. Ensure that Indigenous Peoples’ territorial protocols are respected by officials and host countries of international sporting events.

consultation), this goal extends far beyond Canada and thus will take a lot longer to accomplish.

Overall, the sports related calls to action have seen significant progress over the past eight years, with most being either complete or having a pathway to completion in sight. But why then, are the majority of the 94 calls to action not anywhere close to completion? Per Stephen Wentzell, just 13 CTA have been completed in the eight years since the TRC.

We are still very early in the process of truth and reconciliation. As McGill professor Cindy Blackstock wrote for the Yellowhead Institute’s accountability report in 2022, “Instead of being dedicated to reconciliation, Canada’s behaviour shows that they are resisting substantive change, preferring those Calls to Action they can easily perform and that makes them look good.”

specifically focusing on five calls to actio in the reconciliation category which relate to sport. In 2020, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) rated the government as having

isn’t quite finished, but progress has been made.

88. Continued support for the North American Indigenous Games

as a fundamental element of health and well-being, reduce barriers to sports participation, increase the pursuit of excellence in sport, and build capacity in the Canadian sport sys-

The 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto “recognized Indigenous Peoples territory, included Indigenous flame runners and visited First Nations communities with the flame”. Although in some instances this has been followed (with varying degrees of Indigenous

8 thefulcrum.ca Sports Reporter Tyler Beauchesne associate.sports@thefulcrum.ca sports
Sports Editor Andrew Wilimek sports@thefulcrum.ca
Andrew Wilimek Image: Wilderness Committee/Provided.

Giving Indigenous peoples a voice in the scientific community

Faculty of Science launches uOttawa Alliance Supporting Indigenous Science Students

If you’re a science student here at the University of Ottawa and you check your student email, you likely saw one stating there was a new Indigenous student-centered network.

If you missed that email, don’t worry!

The Fulcrum spoke with U of O Professor Jaclyn Brusso and chemistry PhD student Connor Bourgonje who are actively driving this program forward, to discuss the uOttawa Alliance Supporting Indigenous Science Students (uOASISS) in more detail.

How did the program come to fruition?

On Jan. 21, 2021

Brusso took on the role of Vice Dean of equity, diversity, inclusion and professional development in the faculty of science. It was in this role and with fellow faculty members, and later Bourgonje the idea to establish this support for Indigenous science students was born.

Throughout the planning process it became evident to Brusso that, “it was really important to have an Indigenous voice in coming up with the plans of, activities and initiatives that we want to do and so, I give credit to Bourgonje whose really driven the suggestions and helped direct us.”

Bourgonje added, “I bring to this programme, like [Brusso] said, an Indigenous voice which is a rarity in some departments in science, unfor-

tunately. [I’ve noticed] a [number of] barriers that Indigenous people face.

I’ve always wanted to get involved in this stuff and I thank [Brusso] for putting me in a position where I can really be an advocate.

Since then I’ve spoken at conferences and at National Truth and Reconciliation day at the faculty last year.”

Although Bourgonje had a thorough knowledge of the barriers faced by Indigenous students, the program did not become fully realized until he heard conversations about Indigenous relationships in STEM at the Canadian society of chemistry conference.

What type of support is being provided?

Notably, there already exists a number of support systems in place specific to science students such as, the chemistry, mathematics, and physics help center, as well as the mentoring center, career center, etc. That being said, the Fulcrum felt it important to address the unique offerings uOASSIS provides.

“Well, I think all students will have their own experiences, challenges, and opportunities while at the university. Based on anecdotal evidence and conversation, we have had Indigenous students in the Faculty of Science, but they don’t participate in or take advantage of some of the services that are available,” explained Brusso. Thus, our hope for this network is so that we can

bring this awareness and incorporate it into the services that are already available.”

And this is true across the country. Thus creating a community where they can talk to each other and

a future where Indigenous students feel like they are welcome and are an integral part of our research

According to Brusso, there are a multitude of resources available through the Indigenous Resource Centre, however, students either don’t know about them or are not comfortable using them. The reasoning still remains unclear to her, nonetheless, uOASSIS wants to highlight what is available to students in the faculty of science in order to minimize those barriers.

Bourgonje added, “it’s important that the program is focused on improving the success of Indigenous scientists. We want this to really belong to the students, which is something that you don’t necessarily get in say a broad mentorship programme.”

“What we’ve heard (and there’s research on this) is that a lot of students from Indigenous backgrounds feel isolated, and they don’t feel a sense of community at the university campus.

feel welcome, as well as building something that suits their specific needs is an integral part of the program.”

Similar to the mentoring center, uOASSIS is looking to connect firstyear Indigenous students with upper-year undergraduate students, graduate students, and even post-doctoral students in this network in order to support each other as they progress through their degrees.

Most importantly, “we want to talk to students to see what their needs are instead of trying to guess or tell them what they need. So right now, we’re in this dynamic space where the program can adapt to specific needs,” said Bourgonje.

The future

When asked what the future for Indigenous science students could look like Bourgonje responded, “I want to see

programmes. I want to see Indigenous students feeling that they have an equal chance to succeed in their degree, I want to see Indigenous students getting meaningful careers, where they feel that the university helped them instead of hindering them.”

He continued, “in five years, I would love it if I came back to Ottawa and saw this thriving community in the science faculty. Where Indigenous students have ownership over uOASSIS and it’s able to self-sustain itself so that more students can continue to benefit.”

Science Editor Emma Williams science@thefulcrum.ca
Emma Williams Stem Building. Photo: Matthew Osborne/ Fulcrum.


Bilingualism: A barrier for expanding Indigenous language courses at U of O


We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages.

– #16 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Call to Action, 2015

In 2015, the TRC put out 94 calls to action regarding Canada’s history of genocide of the Indigenous peoples of this land.

Today I want to put the University of Ottawa under the microscope. What have they done towards the fulfillment of Call to Action 16? Is this University doing a good job of answering this call from the TRC?

If the question is if the University is doing a ‘good job’, I’d say they’re doing it, but not necessarily a great job

– Quanah Traviss, Co-President of the Indigenous Student Association and Director of Indigenous Students, UOSU BoD

On top of acting as a representative of Indigenous students at U of O, Traviss studies linguistics with a focus on language acquisition and revitalization.

Cut back to Nov. 2022 at the University of Ottawa Student Union Fall General Assembly. Traviss proposes a constitutional amendment. That amendment allows Indigenous students who are not bilingual in both English and French but speak an Indigenous language to be able

to run for an executive position. It passed unanimously.

Now the academic side of things is unfortunately not as simple. The Institute of Indigenous Research and Studies (IIRS) faces an uphill battle. According to U of O’s website, professors are not required to be fully bilingual. It’s also stated that it is “possible to require that the candidate demonstrate a level of active or passive bilingualism in the other official language.” This is because faculty meetings are conducted bilingually, which is why bilingual candidates are often given priority. If you are a U of O student, you may notice that the vast majority of your professors are bilingual.

According to Statistics Canada, 10.5 per cent of all Indigenous Canadians are bilingual. As per the 2021 census there are 1,807,250 Indigenous Canadians. That means roughly 189,761 out of all Indigenous Canadians are bilingual. So of course, it can be assumed that finding Indigenous academics who are also bilingual in both French and English is a massive challenge for the IIRS.

And let’s not forget that this call to action is specifically about programs and courses regarding Indigenous languages, not just Indigenous studies. Approximately 237,420 Indigenous Canadians speak an Indigenous language. I couldn’t even find a number of how many Indigenous Canadians also knew English

and French, on top of an Indigenous language. Even Mary Simon, the first Indigenous Governor General in Canadian history, speaks English and Inuktitut but not French.

All of this leads to an unfortunate lack of professors in the IIRS, many courses don’t run most semesters, especially Indigenous language courses. In some cases, professors teaching these Indigenous language courses don’t even know the language they are teaching. According to Traviss, there was a Cree language course that was taught by a professor who was not and did not speak Cree.

Of course, U of O is not the only university that lacks proper fulfillment towards Call to Action 16. It can be argued that there are a lot of barriers, not just the bilingual aspect. But there are schools that have done it right; in 2021, the University of British Columbia became the first University in Canadian history to offer a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous language fluency.

Much like UOSU did, the University needs to consider prioritizing hiring professors who are proficient in an Indigenous language, even those who aren’t bilingual in both official languages. This shouldn’t just be done for all Indigenous students, but also on the merit of being the largest bilingual university in the world. It is the University’s duty to help preserve the Indigenous languages of Turtle Island.

I will now leave you with some parting words from Traviss regarding his feelings after the 2022 UOSU Fall General Assembly.

When I went home that night I knew that I had done something to make this campus a little more welcoming of Indigenous peoples, and that made me happy – Quanah Traviss, a student who envisions a country where his future children being fluent in their language, Mohawk, is commonplace

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Opinions EDITOR Keith de Silvia-Legault opinions@thefulcrum.ca
Keith de Silvia-Legault

Commemoration and reconciliation: The complex dynamics guiding the designation, alteration and removal of colonial monuments

Plaques on campus and at St. Joseph’s church omit details of brutal colonialism

Outside Simard Hall on the University of Ottawa campus stands a plaque: “Founded in 1848 as the College of Bytowne by Bishop Joseph-Bruno Guigues, the University of Ottawa is the oldest and largest bilingual post-secondary institution in Canada,” it reads. “Under the direction of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate until 1965, it serves as a meeting ground for two of the most prominent intellectual and scientific traditions of the Western World.”

Just across the street from campus, on the grounds of St. Joseph’s church on Cumberland Street, a sister plaque stands.

“‘Missionaries to the Poor,’ [the Oblates] followed the explorers and settled in the remote outposts of the colonies and in the villages of the aboriginal [sic] peoples whose languages they learned and customs they studied,” it reads.

The plaque continues: “The Oblates established parishes adapted to the culture of the people and set up educational institutions where instruction is offered in Canada’s two official languages. Their works have made a significant contribution to Canadian ethnography.”

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate ran up to 47 per cent of Canadian residential

schools. The organization recently found itself in national headlines due to its initial refusal to release records regarding their former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, where the remains of 215 children were found in May. They have since agreed to comply. Recent events like these have brought the troubling histories of institutions like the Oblates to the forefront of mainstream Canadian discourse, providing a valuable opportunity to discuss the histories we curate, whose voices tell them, and how they factor into meaningful reconciliation.

‘It’s tough to get to reconciliation without truth’

Brenda Macdougall is the academic delegate for Indigenous engagement at the Indigenous Resource Centre (IRC) and a professor in the faculty of arts at the U of O. She also works on the Indigenization file with the provost’s office. While the plaques aren’t a flashpoint for her, she recognizes their problematic nature.

“ I think that the plaques are part of the ongoing conversation that Canada is having about how we memorialize and how we remember and how we educate. And if those signs, plaques, monuments, symbols aren’t actually educating, then I think that we have to question their long-term relevance,” said Macdougall in an interview with

the Fulcrum.

The narrative that the plaques represent omits key facts about the Oblates. The plaque located in front of Simard Hall serves to acknowledge the University’s historical association with the Oblates. However, it completely ignores the role that the religious organization played in the residential school system. The plaque located off-campus, however, paints a revisionist picture of the Oblates as benevolent explorers.

Darren Sutherland is a U of O alum who now works for the University’s Indigenous Affairs office as Indigenous community engagement officer and works to recruit Indigenous students with the Aboriginal Post Secondary Information Program (APSIP). He is also of Cree heritage and is the son of residential school survivors.

Sutherland thinks these monuments require a nuanced treatment that prioritizes the input of survivors without erasing the history

of the institutions they represent. It’s a task that Sutherland said demands more transparency and better contextualization.

“In this era of Truth and Reconciliation, it’s tough to get to reconciliation without truth. And I think that applies not just to the church, but to any organization or institution that had played some part in the settlement of this country and the things that they did in order to meet those goals,” said Sutherland.

Teaching truth

The issue of what to do with monuments illustrating Canada’s colonial past is one that has sparked heated debate over recent years. Daniel Rück, an associate professor in the department of history at the U of O, agrees that the creation of monuments like these entails the careful and intentional crafting of a historical narrative.

While he acknowledges that every historical document can-

not be expected to tell every side of the story, Rück thinks the medium of the message is an important factor.

“A plaque is expensive. A plaque takes a lot of planning, a plaque is meant to be permanent. I think we have to look at the materiality of this. It’s supposed to last a really long time. So when someone writes something, they’re doing it really carefully for a plaque,” said Rück, who is cross-appointed to the Institute of Indigenous Research Studies.

“But who got to talk? Who gets to have their story on the plaque? And who doesn’t have to get to have their story on the plaque? I see it very much in terms of that [the] story isn’t complete, but it is exactly the story that those people who put the plaque together wanted to tell.”

Rück argued monuments such as these serve as evidence of a racist history in this country that should not be for-

Editor-In-Chief Bridget Coady editor@thefulcrum.ca
Zoë Mason Image: Kai Holub/Fulcrum.

gotten or glossed over, complicating the issue of removal. He believes the future of such monuments should lay with the Indigenous people they affect. According to Macdougall, the question is what the community stands to gain from any proposed solution. Like Rück, while Macdougall sees advocating for the removal of the plaques as a viable option, it wouldn’t be her first choice.

“The University of Ottawa could certainly advocate for their removal if they chose to. But I also think that a counter-narrative can be created, and so rather than seeing them as something to remove, the question is, how do we actually contextualize better the content surrounding them?”

Macdougall suggested alternative ways to rectify the messaging. She says the university could offer a history course focusing on the history of the U of O institution and the Oblates’ organization, or a counter-plaque initiative.

“[Monuments] are not history, they are just memorials to something,” she said. “My perspective is, if you can’t tell me what it is memorializing or who those people [or institutions] are that we’re we’re concerned about — if we take the issue of the tearing down of the MacDonald statues, if you can’t tell me anything about John A. MacDonald — then you don’t know your history, and no statue is going to make that happen.”

Reckoning with a dark past

During the week of Sept. 30, a second plaque was installed next to the government plaque at St. Joseph’s that aimed

to provide this crucial contextualization. This plaque, pictured above, was discovered on Oct. 1 and removed seven days after its installation.

Father Ken Thorson, the provincial leader of the Oblates of OMI Lacombe Canada, wrote in a statement to the Fulcrum that the new plaque contained a number of historical inaccuracies.

The plaque suggests that the Oblates worked in “at least 57” residential schools nationwide. It lists some of the more notable schools, including the one in Kamloops, B.C. The plaque also noted the documented reluctance of the Oblates to divulge records pertaining to the residential schools that it administered, and took special note of the role these records play in the discovery and identification of children buried at those institutions.

Thorson wrote that “the recently added plaque, while rightly referencing the involvement of the Oblates in the Indian Residential School (IRS) system, contained imprecise information.”

“The Oblates worked in 48 schools, not ‘at least 57;’ the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had access to our archives during the course of the inquiry and over 40,000 documents are housed in the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR); we are actively collaborating with the NCTR to ensure that all remaining relevant documents will be available through the NCTR; in BC and Alberta, all of the Oblate archives from those provinces were gifted to the Royal BC Museum and the Provincial Archives of Alberta; no archives have been moved outside of Canada to prevent access.”

Thorson did not mention his organization’s initial refusal to disclose records earlier this year. He did make it clear that the Oblates are in support of efforts to publicly address their role in the residential school system. While the Oblates issued a public apology in 1991, Thorson recognizes that their work towards reconciliation is ongoing.

“The original plaque was erected by a government agency – and so they determined its content. Given our involvement in the running of the IRS, and as part of our commitment to respond to the Calls to Action of the TRC, as well as our commitment to work towards reconciliation and healing, we would welcome some kind of acknowledgement of our role in the schools, and the harm they brought to Indigenous children and communities,” wrote Thorson. While the organization itself appears not to have plans to add any contextualizing monuments, Thorson said they would be in support of any government initiatives that aim to do so, and added that Indigenous consultation would be an integral part of this process.

The Oblates’ archival staff have been working alongside the NTRC to make their records available to the public. It’s an initiative that Thorson sees as a crucial part of their work towards healing.

“Presently, the most important contribution the Oblates can make is to the search for truth,” he wrote.

The future of the plaques and others like them

“National historic designations commemorate all aspects of Canada’s history, both positive and negative. Designa-

tions can recall moments of greatness and triumph or cause us to contemplate some of the tragic and challenging moments that helped define the Canada of today,” wrote Rola Salem, a spokesperson from Parks Canada, in a statement to the Fulcrum.

Parks Canada, the government agency responsible for commemorative plaques, has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to work towards a broader, more inclusive representation of Canadian history.

In particular, the establishment of the Framework for History and Commemoration, introduced in 2019, seeks to incorporate a more diverse set of perspectives — and tell a more complex story — than has historically been the case in the past.

“The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC), [which advises the federal government with regards to the National Program of Historical Commemoration,] also recognizes the shifts in historical understanding that have occurred over the past century and acknowledges the need to be responsive to these shifts. A process is underway to identify priorities and develop a sustainable schedule for the review of existing designations and their plaque texts,” wrote Salem.

“A broad range of existing designations are potentially controversial, have outdated reasons for national historic significance, and do not reflect contemporary knowledge and scholarship. These designations require review.”

The process can be slow-moving, as they take place according to the availability of time and resources, but

Salem told the Fulcrum reviewing the Oblates designation as a National Historical Event by the Government of Canada and the HSMBC is a priority.

Salem indicated reviews might alter the justification of the designation to better recognize contemporary understandings of a historical event, person, or place. They also may result in the alteration of the story told by the plaque itself.

Like the Oblates, Parks Canada wrote that they are committed to including Indigenous voices when they revisit monuments like these.

“Similar to the processes in place for the nomination and designation process, a review of a designation will involve consultation and engagement with stakeholders, Indigenous communities, and a wide range of experts,” wrote Salem. Consultation with Indigenous communities has led in recent years to the designation of the residential school system as a National Historical Event, and the designation of four former schools as National Historic Sites.

Looking forward Sutherland added that the creation of the Indigenous Affairs office and the implementation of the Indigenous Action Plan (IAP) illustrate an effort on behalf of the University to find ways to improve the experience on campus for Indigenous staff, students, and faculty. He finds the growth in terms of resources for Indigenous students that he has witnessed since his time as a student at the U of O encouraging.

He said the introduction of the Indigenous Affairs office provides Indigenous students and

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prospective students with crucial representation.

“I think it allows [Indigenous] communities to have more trust and confidence in a university like the University of Ottawa, because I think they know that there are Indigenous people here, and some of us are in positions to really influence policy here,” said Sutherland. Sutherland said he’s seen a lot of changes already since his time as a student.

“I’ve been here, as a student, as an employee, and even before I was a student here, my mother was good friends with one of the few Indigenous faculty members at the time,

and I used to visit the campus with her,” he said.

As a child on campus, Sutherland said the only resources for Indigenous students that he can recall were the few Indigenous faculty and a much smaller Indigenous Resource Centre.

“Now there’s an office, staffed by Indigenous people, that works on policy and procedure that will improve the experience of Indigenous students, staff and faculty. An office that puts on events to try to improve the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people here on campus and raises awareness. And there’s

a lot more support.”

For Sutherland, a lifelong relationship to campus has afforded him a unique opportunity to watch Indigenous presence on campus grow.

“Actually, I’m fairly certain, the office I’m in right now, I’m pretty sure this used to be one of those offices I used to visit, and now it’s the home to the office of Indigenous Affairs and the new Indigenous Resource Center. It’s actually kind of wild, in like 10 or 11 years, I went from just being a spectator or guest on campus, to working here and being part of the change that’s going on.”


curricula, creating more spaces for Indigenous students, and enacting structural changes within the university’s staffing and administration are just some aspects of the IAP that Indigenous Affairs is pursuing. Making aesthetic and symbolic changes is another. For monuments like the plaques, while he would like to see more context and transparency, Sutherland also feels that his wishes are not the ones that should be given priority.

“I think this is definitely something that only a person who went through it can say. I’m not defending the Indian

residential school system. I’m not defending the decisions to run those schools on the part of the church, whether it’s the Catholic or Anglican Church, whatever. But it is very nuanced,” he said. “It’s a little complex. You obviously want to say something angry, or you want to shout and demand some sort of change,” he added. “But at the same time, I had to be sensitive about the experiences of my family, and other survivors and their families, and the continuing sort of influence it has in their lives and has had throughout their lives.”

The temporary plaque was put up outside St. Joseph’s. The church’s staff and administration are unsure who placed it. Image: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum.



The Fulcrum would like to thank

Aaron Hemens for their contributions to this issue.



Bridget Coady (she/her) editor@thefulcrum.ca


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