Reconciliation and the Academy

May 30, 2015

OTTAWA, May 30, 2015 – The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences announces today its commitment to contribute to reconciliation between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair’s call for action towards reconciliation in Canada during his Big Thinking lecture at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa.

The Federation’s board has recently adopted the Touchstones of Hope Principles and Processes to guide its work on reconciliation. In this framework, reconciliation is recognized as being a movement that must be built and sustained—it is not an event or a short term project.

The five core Touchstone Principles include:

  1. Recognizing Aboriginal self-determination;
  2. The need to take a holistic approach to promoting reconciliation;
  3. Respecting Aboriginal cultures and languages;
  4. The need for structural interventions  to address marginalization and historical wrongs, and
  5. Non-discrimination: ensuring that non-Aboriginal staff and partners are supported in working in respectful ways.

“There is a growing sense of urgency across the country on the need for reconciliation between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal peoples, including the need for significant action within the post-secondary sector,” says Stephen Toope, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs. “The Federation is a leader in the humanities and social sciences research community and as such it should and will be expected to model reconciliation among member and partners.”

“Aboriginal scholars, students and non-Aboriginal allies are demanding greater respect in the humanities and social science research community for Aboriginal knowledge, cultures and languages,” says Cindy Blackstock, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta and Director for Equity and Diversity on the Board of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.  “With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set to release its final report this week, the historical moment demands that the academy take up the call to action. Reconciliation is everyone’s business and we look forward to working with members and partners in pursuit of right relations.” 


About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research, learning and an understanding of the contributions made by the humanities and the social sciences towards a free and democratic society. Established in 1940, with a membership now comprising 160+ universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 85,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit

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Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

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