University of Windsor wants to hire five of Canada's 'best and brightest' Indigenous professors

The University of Windsor has committed to hiring five full-time Indigenous professors as part of an ongoing effort to increase diversity in academia. The school isn't only looking for new hires to teach Indigenous studies — they want the "best and brightest" in every discipline.

University currently only has a 'handful' of Indigenous staff

The University of Windsor has committed to hiring five full-time Indigenous professors as part of a new President's Indigenous People Scholars Program. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

The University of Windsor has committed to hiring five full-time Indigenous professors as part of an ongoing effort to increase diversity in academia.

The recruitment announcement is part of a new President's Indigenous Peoples Scholars Program and is a "very strong statement about the importance of increasing Indigenous representation," according to president Alan Wildeman.

University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman. (University of Windsor)

"I think it's been recognized for a very long time that there's this significant underrepresentation of Indigenous people in faculties at universities across Canada," he added. "It's a voice that is very important and it's a voice that has not been heard enough."

Problems with Indigenous representation go all the way back to 1867 when the "bones of this great country were laid down and First Nations people weren't in the room," said Wildeman. 

The new program is one way the university can bring more perspectives on campus, he added.

Notice of the positions have already been sent to Indigenous groups across the country. Applicants must identify as a First Nations, Inuit or Metis person and meet standard academic requirements for a faculty job.

University filling positions in all disciplines

Currently, the university only has a "handful" of Indigenous staff members, said Wildeman, who added the program comes after the school's faculty of law hired three Indigenous professors in the past two years.

"I know [their perspective] is really being reflected in some of the things they teach and some of the conversations they're having now," said the president."Those perspectives are important."

University of Windsor law professor Valarie Waboose. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

Valarie Waboose is one of the Indigenous professors hired by the law faculty. She told CBC News that increasing the number of Indigenous professors at the university will benefit everyone.

"[This initiative] will draw in more Aboriginal students ... [and it] will help educate Canadians — or whoever comes to school at the university — about the Indigenous people of Canada," she said. "Even though people think they know a lot, I think there are a big percentage that don't know very much."

The University of Windsor sits on the traditional lands of the Three Fires Confederacy people, Waboose added.

"It's really important that they recognize that."

Wildeman emphasized that the school isn't only looking for the new hires to teach Indigenous studies — they want the "best and brightest" in every discipline.

"The more voices we can get the more likely it is we can have the right conversations and find the right kind of common ground to resolve differences and find a way forward," he explained. "Anywhere we can increase Indigenous representation among our faculty we want to do it."