OCUFA Report

In this issue…
Ontario’s university faculty troubled by results of Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey
OCUFA faculty associations participate in constituency week advocacy
Watch the 2019 Worldviews Lecture by Tanya Talaga: Truth and reconciliation in higher education and the media
UOITFA reaches collective agreement on behalf of newly consolidated bargaining unit

Ontario’s university faculty troubled by results of Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey
Ontario’s university faculty were troubled to learn the results of the Ontario Government’s Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey released on Tuesday, March 19. It is deeply disturbing that over 63 per cent of university students surveyed disclosed an experience of sexual harassment and that sexual violence remains so pervasive on campus. These results point to the hard work still needed to create campuses and communities free of sexual harassment and violence.
“It’s deeply disturbing to see just how pervasive sexual harassment and violence is for students attending Ontario’s universities,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “As faculty, and as members of the university community, we are committed to continuing to work with students and universities towards eliminating sexual violence on our campuses.”
University faculty are pleased to see the provincial government focusing on efforts to support universities and students, including increasing funding for the Women’s Campus Safety Grant. However, the money will do little to make up for the hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out of the university system earlier this year. Faculty will be looking for the government to demonstrate a commitment to postsecondary education and the vital support services universities provide by increasing investments in Ontario’s universities in the coming budget.
It is also important to acknowledge that it is campus students’ unions and campus media who have been leaders in pointing out the shortcomings in university, college, and government policy on sexual violence and sexual harassment campus. They have been at the forefront of the work to create better sexual violence prevention policies on campus. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the government made today’s announcement while continuing their attacks on the very student organizations that have been so instrumental in raising awareness and driving progress on these issues.
“The government should stop undermining the ability of students’ unions to support and advocate on behalf of their members through the Student Choice Initiative,” said Phillips. “Instead, this government should support students by investing in postsecondary education and ensuring that universities and students’ unions have the resources to support a campus free from sexual violence.”
Sexual violence is unacceptable. The results of this survey demonstrate the severity of the problem on university and college campuses and the need for substantial resources and strong students’ unions and campus media to effectively address these issues. Faculty are committed to this work and to partnering with students, staff, university administrators, and the provincial government to create safer campuses.

OCUFA faculty associations participate in constituency week advocacy
During the week of March 11th, OCUFA member associations from across the province participated in a series of advocacy meetings with MPPs in their ridings. These meetings were organized during a “constituency week” – a week when the provincial legislature is not sitting and many MPPs return to their ridings to hold meetings with their constituents.
Constituency week provided an important opportunity for faculty to discuss important postsecondary issues with MPPs, including:
• committing to a faculty renewal strategy that supports full-time hiring at universities while creating pathways to secure jobs for contract faculty;
• moving away from punitive university funding models based on performance metrics and urging greater consultation with faculty about university funding frameworks; and
• improving access to postsecondary education through protecting and expanding funding for postsecondary education in Ontario.
This is the first time that OCUFA faculty associations strategically engaged in a series of coordinated meetings with MPPs in their ridings during constituency week. Faculty association representatives have provided positive feedback on the meetings with their MPPs. It is an important step in building a strong relationship with their local representatives and increasing the awareness of faculty priorities. Moving forward, OCUFA will continue to support faculty associations wishing to participate in constituency week meetings with their MPPs.

Watch the 2019 Worldviews Lecture by Tanya Talaga: Truth and reconciliation in higher education and the media

At the 2019 Worldviews Lecture, Ojibway author and journalist Tanya Talaga addressed the need for better education for Indigenous students in Canada and how higher education can be a part of the solution. After her lecture, Talaga joined a panel discussion about the responsibilities higher education and the media have regarding truth and reconciliation.
Watch the 2019 Worldviews Lecture by Tanya Talaga on truth and reconciliation in higher education and the media.
Talaga’s started her lecture by stating that the history of what has happened in this country needs to be remembered when searching for paths forward. Many of the problems Indigenous students face when trying to access education stem from the generations of oppression that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples have endured. She reminded the audience that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action were particularly meant for non-Indigenous Canadians to embrace as steps toward reconciliation.
Talaga noted that while promoting her book, Seven Fallen Feathers, after every event at least one audience member would come and tell her that they did not know about Canada’s residential school system. She pointed to the omission of this history in Canada’s schools as the cause of this lack of awareness. Talaga recalled that even in her history classes at the University of Toronto, Indigenous peoples were only reference in a couple of paragraphs about the fur trade. This historical ignorance feeds into how and why many Canadians fail to understand the issues preventing Indigenous students from accessing education today.
Talaga explained that there are very few high schools in Indigenous communities, forcing young teenagers to move away from home to receive an education. These students have to leave their family, their culture, and their languages to attend high school in cities hundreds of kilometres away.
Even though education is a fundamental right in this country, the schools Indigenous youth attend are often understaffed and underfunded. Talaga referenced Journalists for Human Rights’ most recent report Emerging Voices, where they reported that a lack of internet and computer access, as well as distance and funding are some of the main barriers that Indigenous students face when trying to access education.
Talaga suggested that, in order to get Indigenous students better access to postsecondary education, universities and colleges need to reach out to nearby Indigenous communities. For example, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School has partnered with Confederation College so high school students can get college credits to help them transition to Lakehead University through a bridge program. Talaga said that if postsecondary institutions want to learn about creating a better relationship with Indigenous communities, they should pick up a phone, make an appointment, and go and talk to members of the community to figure out how they can improve their programs, services, and supports.
To conclude her talk, Talaga urged the audience to use their knowledge and tools to try to make a change. She said that Senator Murray Sinclair, the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, once told her that education got us into this mess, but education will also get us out.
Talaga’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Jesse Wente and audience questions.
David Newhouse, a professor of Indigenous Studies in the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University, focused on the importance of using Indigenous knowledge at universities and in research. He said that there is now a foundation that can be used to move forward, but universities need to do better. He was critical of universities that create Indigenous programming that only meets some of the needs of Indigenous communities and that, without using Indigenous knowledge, universities are continuing the work of the residential schools. He hopes that by including Indigenous knowledge at universities, Indigenous students can see what they can contribute to the world.
Susan Hill, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, spoke about the importance of restitution in order for there to truly be reconciliation. Hill illustrated that there are many uncomfortable conversations that have to happen. In order to achieve reconciliation, Indigenous peoples need fair compensation for the dispossession of their lands and resources. As well, there need to be more educational supports for language revitalization and a recognition of our collective environmental responsibility. She said the reality is that no one is going anywhere, so we need to find a way to make this work.
Hayden King, Executive Director of the Yellowhead Institute and Advisor to the Dean of Arts on Indigenous Education at Ryerson University, echoed Talaga’s frustration with the lack of settler knowledge around Indigenous history in Canada. Even though Indigenous leaders have been speaking out about the atrocities that their peoples have faced for generations, King said it is Canadians’ willful ignorance and colonial amnesia that has allowed this history to go unacknowledged for so long. He argued that Indigenous history is not a story of victimization but of resistance and that in order for reconciliation to happen there needs to be meaningful action.
Jesse Wente, an Ojibwe writer, broadcaster, producer, and Director of the Indigenous Screen Office in Canada, spoke about the fact that Canadians are stuck in the “truth” part of truth and reconciliation. He said that the truth part is easy but it also forces Canadians to confront the fact that they benefit from what has happened, and continues to happen, to Indigenous peoples. Reconciliation is harder and fundamentally challenging for Canada – a country known as a respectful, free, and inclusive nation, but which, in reality, was built through killing, stealing from, and oppressing Indigenous peoples. Wente also pointed out the role that education and media have played in supporting colonialism and hundreds of years of injustice and suffering. He challenged educators and journalists to teach the truth and tell different stories that build understanding and help envision a path forward that recognizes the rights of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples

UOITFA reaches collective agreement on behalf of newly consolidated bargaining unit
The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) has ratified a three-year agreement with their university administration. This is the first agreement UOITFA has achieved with its newly merged unit after they consolidated bargaining units last year. The agreement applies to tenured and tenure-stream faculty and teaching faculty (who previously had separate agreements), as well as limited term faculty, for whom this is their first agreement. The association achieved across-the-board salary increases comparable to other faculty associations. Significant achievements included extensive improvements to benefits in areas such as vision care, paramedical, and hearing aid coverage. The UOITFA also successfully negotiated increases to the contributions for its defined contribution pension plan as part of its effort to enhance the retirement security of its members.

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