Georgian announces new Indigenization strategy
Nov. 30, 2022
Georgian College has launched a new Indigenization strategy representing a renewed energy to lead the college forward on the important journey of Truth and Reconciliation.
Indigenous-focused education and support services have been in place at Georgian since 1995. While the scope of Indigenization work has grown immensely over the last 30 years, through the new plan the college is committed to continuing to deepen and enhance this work across the entire Georgian community.
Mary-Anne Willsey, Vice Chair of Georgian’s Board of Governors and Chair of the Anishinabe Education and Training Circle, said the strategy will provide direction on ways in which all college departments and academic areas can work collaboratively on new initiatives that will benefit not only students but the communities in which they live and work.
The priorities identified in the strategy titled Maajiishkaadaa (Let’s Move Forward Together) are grounded in insightful feedback from Indigenous community partners, along with Georgian students and employees, and will guide the college over the next two years. The plan is focused on six pillars: Truth and Reconciliation, leadership, representation, community engagement, curriculum and pedagogy, and cultural enrichment.
Using these six pillars, the image of an arbour emerged as a visual representation for the framework. The arbour is often the central area of the Pow Wow arena where drummers, singers and the master of ceremonies are situated, and is a familiar structure for Indigenous people across Turtle Island. Since many Indigenous cultural traditions and Pow Wows were once banned, the arbour serves as a powerful symbol of Indigenous resurgence.
Kevin Weaver, President and CEO of Georgian College, said he will continue to look for ways to Indigenize his own office and work in the coming months. He recently unveiled the college’s renewed Coat of Arms, which includes several new Indigenous elements and had a four-colour feather added to his presidential convocation gown, representative of Indigenous culture and the four sacred directions.
Georgian College renew Coat of Arms
With the support of the board of directors and senior team in implementing the new strategy, the college hopes to achieve a number of initiatives, including establishing an E-Zhinoomaagejig Reconcili-action Guiding Circle, rolling out a 4 Seasons of Reconciliation learning module for employees, a revised recruitment plan that increases self-identified Indigenous college employees, meaningful integration of Indigenous content across all academic areas, and an increased physical and virtual presence of Indigenous languages, values, peoples, ways of knowing, symbols, esthetics, and procedures.
Georgian unveils new artwork at the Owen Sound Campus
Part of the increased physical presence includes Indigenous artwork featured at all campuses including a new commissioned painting by Anishnaabe artist and visual storyteller Emily Kewageshig that was unveiled at the Owen Sound Campus as part of the Indigenous plan launch. The title of the artwork, Across the Horizon, speaks to transcending barriers we each face in our educational journeys. Kewageshig said the painting is a representation of taking the talent, knowledge and traits that we individually carry within us and applying them to our futures.
At the end of this two-year strategy Georgian will continue consultations to determine progress made and what’s next.
Georgian was recently named the gold winner of the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICAN) 2022 Indigenous Education Excellence Award. The award recognizes a commitment to Indigenous education through innovative approaches and dedicated structures, curriculum, holistic support services and community partnerships. While the award reaffirms that Georgian is on the right path, there’s more work to do and through the new Indigenization strategy, the college aims to build on this momentum.