Jan. 6, 2022

UCalgary vice-provost to co-chair new national organization for Indigenous university leaders

Michael Hart will work to highlight Indigenous understanding and provide guidance to Canadian universities
Michael Hart
Michael Hart University of Calgary files

Indigenous Senior Administrative leaders from post-secondary institutions across Canada have formed the National Indigenous University Senior Leaders’ Association (NIUSLA). First Nations University of Canada President Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann co-chairs the association alongside Dr. Michael Hart, vice-provost of the Office of Indigenous Engagement at the University of Calgary.

NIUSLA aims to network and engage in constructive dialogue and actions on the roles and responsibilities of leadership within the academic university context. NIUSLA members will have the opportunity to share experiences and information, provide recommendations, and identify areas of success and need within post-secondary institutions. NIULSA strives to:

  • Develop a vibrant and recognized leadership association of university Indigenous senior leaders
  • Address challenges and issues relevant to Indigenous senior leaders
  • Increase the communication and resource capacity of NIUSLA
  • Strengthen and build capacities of Indigenous senior leaders

Given the rise of high-profile Indigenous identity fraud, and the increasing designation benefits (dedicated positions, research funding and scholarships) for Indigenous Peoples at academic institutions in the era of truth and reconciliation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the timing was advantageous for Indigenous senior academic administrators to take the lead and begin working collaboratively by encouraging and promoting expressions of self-determination and leaning into the strengths of its members within non-Indigenous university contexts.

Indigenous senior leaders with a university, college or faculty-wide mandate are invited to join NIUSLA.

“It’s a step toward further strengthening and building capacities of Indigenous senior leadership while being the national network for the administration, advancing issues and concerns of Indigenous Peoples (faculty, staff, students, community members and leaders) and connecting with other Indigenous organizations with common goals," says Ottmann. "The framework includes leadership, mentorship and succession planning for career retention.”

“Indigenous people have never lost focus on self-determination, whether it is in our nations, communities, national organizations, or in shared organizations. We continue to emphasize that matters pertaining to us need to include us in the decision-making, and ideally be based on our visions and goals and implemented with Indigenous people and practices," says Hart.

"This association is about highlighting Indigenous understanding of our common challenges and aspiration as Indigenous Peoples and providing guidance to universities on moving forward in a good way.”

Information on membership in NIUSLA is available from the First Nations University of Canada President’s Office at 306-790-5950, or email jottmann@firstnationsuniversity.ca.

About ii’ taa’poh’to’p

UCalgary’s Indigenous Strategy (ii’ taa’poh’to’p), is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary will move toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization. Learn more about ii’ taa’poh’to’p.

About First Nations University of Canada

The First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) was founded in 1976 and is a First Nations-owned post-secondary institution that aspires to have transformative impact by bridging our ceremonies, knowledge keepers, languages and traditions with the delivery of high-quality post-secondary education that will lead to the pride and success of all students, First Nations communities and Canada. Learn more about FNUniv.