Georgian announces new Indigenization strategy

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.

Presient Kevin Weaver dressed in business attire standing in front of a piece of Indigenous artwork. He's smiling and holding up a booklet.
Kevin Weaver, Georgian College President and CEO

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.

I’m pleased that the work done to date in collaboration with the Anishinabe Education and Training Circle is recognized and reflected in this strategy. It will be a guiding document for all of us in the Georgian community as we journey together toward a period of reconciliaction and I’m privileged to be part of this journey.

– Mary-Anne Willsey, Vice Chair, Georgian College Board of Governors

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

We’re very grateful to Emily for sharing her story and beautiful art with us. We’ve been unveiling Indigenous artwork at each of our campuses as just one part of ongoing efforts to Indigenize the college. It’s important to me that reconciliation isn’t a performative act but an authentic step forward. We expect to see more positive and mindful changes across the college as we launch this new Indigenization strategy, and move forward on the journey of Truth and Reconciliation. Georgian is a learning institution and we’re here to grow – both students and employees. Together, with Indigenous people, we’ll continue to learn and unlearn.

– Kevin Weaver, Georgian College President and CEO

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

Four people standing near a brick wall with a piece of colourful artworkk on it. The four people are Emily Kewageshig, Kevin Weaver, Dave Shorey and Greg McGregor. They're all dressed in business attire.
Anishnaabe artist and visual storyteller Emily Kewageshig; Kevin Weaver, Georgian College President and CEO; Dave Shorey, Executive Director, Georgian College Owen Sound Campus; and Greg McGregor, Manager, Indigenous Services, Georgian College.

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.

My inspiration for the piece was to inspire students and educators to continue on their journeys in a successful way, and to be reminded that they are represented and welcomed in this space.

Artist Emily Kewageshig

An older Indigenous woman (Shirley John) drumming.
Elder Shirley John sings a song of welcome for the art unveiling.

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.

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