5 Chapter 5: Macro Political Policies and Teaching in Postsecondary Institutions

A. Session Introduction

Universities and Colleges exist within a society to serve societal needs. Consequently, as a societal body, they are tasked with and to respond to the societal challenges. These issues are often outside the purview of the colleges and universities directly. In this section, we are going to examine one such outside influence. You are asked to identify other outside influences that impinge on direction and operations of the universities and colleges.

Photo by Jess Lindner on Unsplash

TRC Recommendations

In the checkered history of Canada, the treatment of Indigenous peoples stands out as a blemish. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its final reports in a multi-volume publication. The TRC was unlike any other in Canadian history. It was created as part of the efforts to learn about the atrocities committed over a hundred years and made recommendations that needed to be implemented as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement. The commission did its work over 6 years and submitted its final report in 2015. In the Call to Action report, the higher education sector was identified as a key institution that has a role to play. The report states:

We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education. (Clause 11, p. 2)


We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages. (Clause 16, p. 2)

The PSE sector is responsible for attending to these challenges. Different universities and colleges across Canada have tried to integrate the recommendations, with varying degrees of effort and success. Here is one example, from the University of Toronto, as it attempts to address reconciliation in healthcare education. Since the PSE sector is comprised of individual actors, it is also important for us to consider our own efforts and attempts at reconciliation. Read this article, and as it explains, consider what you can bring to the fire and what biases you are carrying around.

Although the work of reconciliation and healing is far from over, the first stage of the TRC has been completed. The work of the TRC is now being completed through the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the University of Manitoba.

B. Learning Outcomes

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Understand the role of the external actors/agencies that influence operations within the PSE;
  • Consider the way in which TRC recommendations are adopted with the educational organizations and PSE sector;
  • Identify other external actors/agencies that influence the operations of the PSE sector.

C. Session Resources

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from https://nctr.ca/map.php

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015). Calls to action. Winnipeg, MB: TRC. Retrieved from https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2091412-trc-calls-to-action.html

D. Learning Activities

1. Review the TRC Calls to Action report. Review the document for its overall structure, including its headings and subheadings and pay special attention to Calls to Action.

2. Review the TRC (now NCTR) website. Check out the website to see what materials are available, what research has been done, and what reports exist.

Based on the information you reviewed in tasks 1 and 2, share your thoughts in the forum titled Reconciliation Resources. Some possible things to consider: How familiar were you with the TRC before this class? What did you learn from your exploration here? Which of the items listed under Calls to Action seem to have the fewest barriers to implementation? Which items in Calls to Action pose most challenging to implement? Where should we start? Please remember to consider your personal characteristics when commenting and be respectful at all times.

3. Consider the UofT article that you read above. Without searching, what reconciliation efforts are you aware of on your own campuses (i.e., your local PSE institution)? Note them in your learning log journal. Now, search for what other reconciliation efforts are ongoing that you were not aware of. What critical (i.e., analytical, not necessarily negative) comments and thoughts do you have?

As a bonus, examine reconciliation practices across the PSE sector in general. Propose other ways in which the TRC recommendations can be incorporated into PSE.