'We are listening' to Indigenous students, says U of S official
Indigenous Students' Council continuing boycott of U of S reconciliation talks
An Indigenous student group at the University of Saskatchewan is continuing to urge a boycott of reconciliation talks, but a university official hopes that will change.
U of S vice-provost of Indigenous Engagement Jacqueline Ottmann says many people are working tirelessly to "Indigenize" the U of S.
"The U of S has been committed to responding to the (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) Calls to Action," Ottmann said. "We hope that Indigenous students at the U of S will contribute to the efforts we make to this important nationwide priority."
The Indigenous Students' Council has boycotted reconciliation and "Indigenization" talks with the university since March. That boycott will continue, said Council President Regan Ratt-Misponas.
Ratt-Misponas said many of them want to form their own student union. A meeting was scheduled for Tuesday evening on campus to discuss these and other possible changes.
Ratt-Misponas said the current status as a council places them "under" the general student union. He says they want recognition as a full union, which could give them seats on the board of governors, the senate and other powerful bodies.
Ratt-Misponas says Indigenous people deserve to be at those tables where reconciliation efforts are under discussion.
"One of the things Indigenous people have never given up is self-determination," he said.
Ottman said the university is willing to help any group interested in forming a union, but the students have the right to change their own governance structure. She said the U of S will respect their autonomy but is there to help.
"To all Indigenous students on our campus, I continue to convey that I am listening, as are my colleagues in administration," Ottman said.