Learning about Indigenization and Collective Bargaining with OCUFA

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In the Spring, OCUFA’s Collective Bargaining Committee hosted two sessions on the challenges and gains made in the hiring and support of Indigenous faculty. Participants heard from Jean Teillet, Senior Counsel with Pape Salter Teillet, and author of the influential 2022 report to the University of Saskatchewan on Indigenous identity fraud. Jean Teillet spoke about importance of establishing Indigenous identity verification policies and procedures to prevent the harm caused by identity fraud. Her presentation served as an important basis for the afternoon session on improvements made in support of Indigenous faculty.

Participants also learned about the importance of ensuring Indigenous faculty engagement on the bargaining team, as well as the barriers, given that some universities had either no Indigenous faculty members, or such small numbers, particularly with tenure status, and the additional service burden consistently placed on Indigenous faculty. Speaking on the 2021 collective bargaining round for the Acadia University Faculty Association (AUFA) were Chief Negotiator Anthony Pash, and Shelly Johnson—Salteaux name Mukwa Musayett—Canada Research Chair in Indigenizing Higher Education at Thompson Rivers University, who served as an adviser to AUFA. Larry Savage, Chief Negotiator for the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA), and Spy Dénommé-Welch (Algonquin-Anishnaabe), Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Knowledge Systems, and Education at the University of Western Ontario, presented on BUFA’s 2020 round.

The panelists spoke about wins at the table made despite such challenges, including a joint committee at Acadia, which includes members of the Mi’kmaq community, AUFA, and the University Board. Some objectives of the committee are to identify priorities, and recommend changes on professional responsibilities, workload, as well as hiring and retention for Indigenous faculty. Another gain was a cluster hire of three Indigenous scholars. At Brock, BUFA was able to negotiate criteria for determining graduate or PhD equivalency for Indigenous knowledge, as well as the ability for Indigenous members to bring an elder or knowledge keeper for promotion and tenure appeals or grievance procedures, in addition to the union representative. As a result of these gains, AUFA and BUFA expressed a commitment to evaluating these achievements in terms of support for and retention of Indigenous faculty, to build on these improvements over time.

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