On December 11, 2017, Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Regina was honoured to receive on behalf of the University, an Eagle Staff created by Elder Roy Bison and his son Teddy Bison, a student in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance.
“It is a tremendous honour for our University to be presented with an Eagle Staff, which is traditionally reserved for a warrior or leader who has earned distinction through service to the community,” says Timmons. “As we continue our efforts toward Indigenization and reconciliation in the coming years, we will do our utmost to live up to this honour and build an inclusive, respectful campus community where we are proud to say and demonstrate that we are all treaty people.”
The Eagle Staff is a sacred symbol that is held in high esteem and used for ceremonial purposes much like a nation’s flag. Each Eagle Staff is unique to the people who created it, to the people to whom it is given and, to the time and place where it was made. The University’s staff includes eagle feathers representing the President’s and Vice-Presidents’ offices as well as each of the University’s faculties. It will be housed in the Office of Indigenization.
“The Eagle Staff is representative of a nation. In our traditional societies when visitors approached an encampment or community the presence of the Eagle Staff meant that the visitors were coming in peace and respect. In contemporary times, the Eagle Staff represents the ideals and values of the owner. It may represent a history. In this case, the Eagle Staff is a powerful symbol of the relationship with the indigenous people of this territory, ” Elder Roy Bison says.
“The Eagle Staff, which is held in very high regard, contains stories, teachings, and most importantly identity,” Teddy Bison says. “I felt the University of Regina needed an Eagle Staff to recognize the perseverance of First Nations students who continue to come through these hallways to obtain their degrees and want to better their lives for themselves, families, and communities.”
The University’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan: peyak aski kikawinaw, Cree for “We are one with mother earth,” includes the overarching commitment to Indigenization and increasing Indigenous student access to and success at the University.
Some of the many actions undertaken to Indigenize the University include:
• incorporating Indigenous content and ways of knowledge into curriculum, lectures and research;
• establishing the Aboriginal Student Centre to support Indigenous students’ transition to university, retention and success;
• providing streets and buildings with Indigenous names;
• creating the Office of Indigenization and hiring an Indigenous Lead who reports directly to the President; and
• establishing an Indigenous Advisory Circle composed of Indigenous faculty, staff and students whose role is to provide advice and guidance on the University’s Indigenization efforts.
In total, 1,943 Indigenous students were registered for classes in Fall 2017, comprising 13 per cent of the University’s student population. This is a 91 per cent increase in the number of students who have self-identified as Aboriginal compared to 2010.
“I’m optimistic that our continuing efforts to Indigenize the University are having a positive impact, there is still more we can and will do,” Timmons said. “For example as part of the Eagle Staff ceremony today the University installed two Treaty Four flags in the hallway of the Research and Innovation Centre. They now hang beside the Aboriginal Student Centre and Office of Indigenization in recognition that as Canadians we are all treaty people.”
The University of Regina Main and College Avenue Campuses, the City of Regina and most of southern Saskatchewan are encompassed by Treaty Four, which also extends into Manitoba and Alberta.
About The University of Regina:
The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota Nakota nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 15,000 students study within the University’s 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master, and doctoral degrees. In 2017, the University of Regina was ranked in the Top 200 Best Young Universities in the world by Times Higher Education.
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