'Place aux Premiers Peuples': a new action plan

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Echoing calls by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the plan outlines more than 100 measures involving all of the University’s core missions.

Université de Montréal is launching an action plan titled ‘Place aux Premiers Peuples’ (Welcoming Indigenous Peoples), outlining more than 100 measures involving all of the University’s core missions.

Echoing the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, UdeM recognizes the importance of increasing the representation of Indigenous Peoples on campus, welcoming their knowledge and cultures and ensuring that Indigenous Peoples feel at home and feel that their university is a culturally safe place which fosters their full potential. 

For the rector of Université de Montréal, Daniel Jutras, this action plan is of outmost importance.

“As a large university, we have a responsibility to reflect our society’s diversity from a perspective of equal opportunity.” he said. “This means that we will have to reach out to groups that are less present on our campuses, such as members of Indigenous Nations. From the outset, in collaboration with Indigenous partners, we outlined the values that would guide our action plan: respect, affirmation, openness and reciprocity. It is in this spirit that we place our hopes and our commitment.” 

For Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the UdeM action plan is a very significant step.

“Things are changing in a significant way,” he said. “Educational institutions can provide an impetus and influence the way governments set policy, in addition to having a positive impact on the reality of how we relate to one another as a society. I would like to congratulate the University for this initiative which matches the spirit and objective of the AFNQL's own action plan against racism and discrimination and which adds itself to the list of alliances that the AFNQL wishes to create”  

The process that led to the development of the action plan was participatory and inclusive.

“As a first step, the University set out the principles and values that guide our relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” said Marie-Claude Rigaud, UdeM’s special advisor and associate secretary-general responsible for equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as Indigenous Relations. “A diagnosis was then carried out and helped to identify, through joint Indigenous - allophone consultations, the courses of action to be prioritized over the coming years.” 

Added Caroline Gélinas, senior advisor for Indigenous Relations: “The action plan aims to welcome Indigenous realities into all of the University's core missions, including student and employee recruitment, support for academic success, Indigenous cultures awareness training, the living environment and research and partnerships.”

For more information, visit the Place aux Premiers Peuples website.

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