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Delegation from the Indigenous Education Initiative at OISE participates in UN Forum on Indigenous issues

By Steve Robinson

May 5, 2015

For the first time, the Indigenous Education Initiative at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) was formally recognized with participant status at the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The forum met in New York from April 20 to May 1, 2015.  

The delegation included:

  • Chief Shawn Atleo, W.A. MacDonald Q.C Distinguished Fellow in Indigenous Education at OISE
  • Dr. Suzanne Stewart, Professor at OISE and Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Homelessness and Life Transitions
  • Mr. Kenn Richard, Executive Director of Native Child and Family Services Toronto and a representative of the OISE Indigenous Community Council; and
  • Mr. Doug White, Director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University.  

State missions and indigenous representatives welcomed the Initiative as an important demonstration of the leadership role that can and should be played by Canadian universities. Ambassador Michael Grant, Canada’s Permanent Mission to the UN, welcomed the delegation and offered ongoing support from Canada’s foreign service to advance the Initiative’s mission and program of research.

The importance of such efforts was underscored through the Initiative-hosted side session on April 24th. The session – titled Literacy as an Indigenous Right – was an important discussion among government and Indigenous representatives, and reinforced the importance of research grounded in local partnerships and also accessible globally. It is clear that many of the world’s most marginalized and dispossessed peoples are looking to Canada for support, inspiration and leadership on human rights and Indigenous rights.

“The Initiative’s first step onto the world stage was a tremendous success and helps position the University of Toronto as the global leader in Indigenous education research,” said Julia O’Sullivan, Dean of OISE, who directs the Initiative.