Memorial’s Office of Indigenous Affairs has released a final version of the Strategic Framework for Indigenization.
The visually rich report, featuring representation of the Beothuk, Mi’kmaq, Innu and Inuit and the traditional territories on which Memorial University campuses are situated, tells a story of their unique histories, cultures and identities.
“Creating appropriate and balanced representation involved considerable reflection,” noted Catharyn Andersen, Memorial’s vice-president (Indigenous). “We wanted to celebrate our connections and diversity while simultaneously challenging embedded misconceptions of Indigenous Peoples as relics of the past, easily represented through the use of homogenous images.”
Representing all peoples
There are four symbols on the cover of the report: the snowshoe represents the Innu, the inuksuk represents the Inuit, the L’nu symbol for human being represents the Mi’kmaq and the juniper branch represents the Beothuk and ancestral groups such as the Dorset and Maritime Archaic peoples.
A blue palette represents water, which is essential to life, subsistence and travel; the sky, under which we all exist; and snow and ice with its many shades of blue.
The items pictured in the report were chosen with intention and meaning.
There are artifacts from archaeological sites that speak to the presence of early inhabitants, such as the Maritime Archaic, the Dorset and the Groswater cultures, along with historic items, traditional crafts and modern pieces that reflect the rich and changing lives of the Innu, Inuit and Mi’kmaq.
The Innu snowshoes, the Inuit seal skin boots and the Mi’kmaw canoe are metaphors of Indigenization as a journey. A grass weaving teacup speaks to the many cups of tea that accompany work and idea sharing.
Preceding the Indigenous student success section, a drum is pictured because drumming is an activity that brings together students of all backgrounds.
Where possible, the images are accompanied by translations in the original language, as language revitalization is an important part of the strategic framework.
1/ Inuit snow goggles
2/ Mi’kmaw basket
3/ Beothuk beads
4/ Innu paint pot
The images were sourced from several sites, starting with Memorial’s Department of Archaeology and the Provincial Archaeology Office, Parks Canada and The Rooms, the source of the majority of the images.
“The Rooms was honoured to collaborate with the Office of Indigenous Affairs at Memorial University on this important initiative,” said Anne Chafe, CEO at The Rooms. “We are proud to be the stewards of these collections, working in partnership with Indigenous governments and organizations to ensure they are accessible to current communities and future generations.”
“The meaning embodied in the visual layout of the framework was a true collaborative effort and we are so grateful for the assistance we received,” added Ms. Andersen. “Indigenous leadership took the time to review the images we were using to ensure appropriate and balanced representation. Sagamaw Misel Joe advised us on respectful representation of the Beothuk. Translators Kanani Davis, Wilson Jararuse and Dean Simon went above and beyond to provide us with the translations we needed. Friends and artists provided us with modern pieces from their personal collections. Nakummek, wela’lioq, tshinashkumitinau, thank you, merci.”
The Strategic Framework for Indigenization sets out four strategic priorities: leadership and partnership; teaching and learning; research; and student success.
The university worked in partnership with Indigenous Peoples across Newfoundland and Labrador to develop the framework, which the Board of Regents endorsed in March 2021.