By Mariam Nouser
Eight new full-time tenured Indigenous faculty members have been hired by the university for the 2019-20 school year.
The hiring of these members will “further [strengthen] the university’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation [Comission of Canada (TRC)],” said provost and vice-president, academic Michael Benarroch.
The university announced on Sept. 10 via Ryerson Today that they have hired 79 new, tenured faculty members, including the eight Indigenous members.
“While there is still work to be done, improving representation in our classrooms and administration is a crucial step towards the meaningful Indigenization of our curriculum and campus,” said Benarroch in the statement.
As a part of the TRC’s report in 2015, there were 94 calls to action for both government and post-secondary institutions. From that, the university implemented a plan of action that includes “increasing the complement of Indigenous faculty and staff members by devising a recruitment and professional development strategy.” As well as “increasing resources for the infusion of Indigenous content into courses and programs.”
President Mohamed Lachemi said in an emailed statement that Ryerson’s Indigenous community had a say in the process via the formation of an Indigenous committee with the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA).
“Recruitment was focused on Indigenous scholars with lived experiences as well as a strong commitment to Indigenous knowledge and methodologies,” said Lachemi. “[The scholars] have extensive experience in collaborating with Indigenous students, organizations and committees.”
“I definitely think it’s a good thing that they’ve hired this amount of faculty,” said Victoria Anderson-Gardner, vice-president marketing of the Ryerson Students’ Union and recent graduate from Ryerson’s film program.
Despite that, Anderson-Gardner says she is unsure of the current percentage of Indigenous faculty at Ryerson but hopes that “…the percentage is going up. I think it is a step towards the TRC and just like [having a step towards] keeping the promises towards that.”
According to Ryerson’s public relations and communications specialist, Lauren Clegg, the new Indigenous faculty members will be in the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Communication and Design and Faculty of Community Services.
Clegg said that due to privacy reasons, the names of the eight faculty members cannot be revealed at the moment but will be released in the near future.
“It would have helped if there was at least one Indigenous person in my program”
Anderson-Gardner wished that there was an Indigenous faculty member when she was a student at Ryerson. “It would have made me more comfortable in my school years,” she said.
“It would have helped if there was at least one Indigenous person in my program. That would have been awesome.”
Clegg said that Ryerson is furthering their commitment to hiring more Indigenous faculty. In the 2019-20 school year, they plan to hire three more Indigenous faculty members whose terms will start in the summer of 2020.
According to Clegg, “[Ryerson] and the RFA have also formed a joint committee on Indigenous faculty. This committee is tasked with developing a process to recruit and appoint Indigenous faculty members to tenure-track positions.
The committee is also examining ways to recognize, support and encourage Indigenous knowledge in our Ryerson community.”
Anderson-Gardner says that, “we kind of have to take what we can get right now. It is a step towards [Indigenizing education]…I kind of try to take things at face value because they could just not hire any Indigenous faculty at all.”