Lighting the Fire: Experiences of Indigenous Faculty in Ontario Universities

With a shared commitment towards advancing reconciliation, Ontario’s universities continue to work to better support Indigenous voices and peoples in university environments across the province.

The insights within the sector-driven report, Lighting the Fire: Experiences of Indigenous Faculty in Ontario Universities – the first of its kind in Canada – will serve as an important step towards gaining a deeper understanding into the experiences of Indigenous faculty members at our institutions.

While Indigenization initiatives vary across universities, they help fuel the development of knowledge and skills that will follow individuals beyond university walls.

From inclusion to fundamental transformation, Ontario’s universities are:

  • Increasing the number of Indigenous students, faculty and staff in university settings;
  • Offering support programs for students;
  • Bringing cultural elements into the university space, including practices such as smudging and events such as powwows;
  • And adjusting aspects of university structures and spaces in order to more fully include Indigenous peoples and cultural practices, and more.

Many of the initiatives currently taking place on our campuses were made possible through the significant contribution and leadership of members of the Indigenous community, including faculty members. Their critical work has enabled universities and Indigenous community members to work in partnership, bringing culturally appropriate supports for students, as well as Indigenous histories, culture, knowledge and ways of knowing on campuses throughout Ontario.

But there is more work to be done. The results of Lighting the Fire, and the corresponding Calls to Action, provide an important opportunity for universities to better support the inclusion of Indigenous voices and peoples on our campuses.

The report is a vital catalyst for challenging ourselves to achieve even greater Indigenization at Ontario’s universities, particularly as we approach the fifth anniversary of the TRC report that was tabled in December 2015.

We are grateful to the faculty members who participated in this survey. Their reflections and perspectives are invaluable as we continue to work to ensure all community members have opportunities to succeed.

As institutions of higher learning, Ontario’s universities can and will do more to advance the process of reconciliation on our campuses, in our communities, in our province, and across Canada.

For more information around initiatives occurring at each Ontario university, visit:

Supporting Quotes from the Co-Chairs of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents and Reference Group on Aboriginal Education Joint Working Group:

Caroline Langill
Vice-President, Academic and Provost, OCAD University
Janice Hill
Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Queen’s University
Cover photo of Lighting the Fire: Experiences of Indigenous Faculty in Ontario Universities

The insights within the sector-driven report, Lighting the Fire: Experiences of Indigenous Faculty in Ontario Universities, will serve as an important step towards gaining a deeper understanding into the experiences of Indigenous faculty members at our institutions. As institutions of higher learning, Ontario’s universities can and will do more to advance the process of reconciliation on our campuses, in our communities, in our province, and across Canada.

Published
December 14, 2020
Partnering to Support Indigenization at Ontario's Universities
Indigenous community members and Ontario’s universities are working to bring culturally appropriate supports for students, as well as Indigenous ways of knowing on campuses. Learn more about the initiatives taking place at each institution.
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hands together in a circle
Strengthening Ontario Campuses through Indigenization
Indigenization helps fuel the development of knowledge that will follow individuals beyond university. Learn more about the sector-wide initiatives that have been made possible by the critical work of members of the Indigenous community.
Learn More