An afternoon of discussion on the work of the Viens Commission – UQAT hosts highly constructive initiative
ROUYN-NORANDA, QC, Oct. 23, 2019 – Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) hosted an afternoon of discussions yesterday on the work of the Public Inquiry Commission on Relations between Indigenous Peoples and Certain Public Services in Québec (the Viens Commission). The event was held in the Premiers‑Peuples Building of UQAT’s Val-d’Or campus. Organized by Suzy Basile and Sébastien Brodeur-Girard, two professors in UQAT’s School of Indigenous Studies, this enriching initiative gave those present the chance to hear members of the Commission talk about their experience, reflect on the commission’s findings and their impact, and discuss the calls to action issued in the final report and what they will mean for the university.
A number of participants, including Commissioner Jacques Viens, talked about their experience with the inquiry, which came to a close on September 30 with the submission of the final report. UQAT students and staff members who were directly involved in the Commission also shared their views and some of their conclusions during the presentations. “There were so many people with ties to UQAT involved in the Commission, so it just made sense—it was important, really—to hold an event like this at the university,” said Brodeur-Girard, a professor with the School of Indigenous Studies and a lawyer.
Next steps at UQAT
The purpose of the activity was to launch a dialogue with the academic community to make sure the Commission, notably through its calls to action, serves as a springboard for further research. “For us researchers, this is just the beginning,” says Suzy Basile, a professor in the School of Indigenous Studies. “With the amount of information that’s been gathered and made available, we’ll definitely be able to shed more light on the situation.” UQAT has a strong track record of taking the needs of First Peoples into account when it comes to research. Respecting research principles and initiatives for, by, and with Indigenous Peoples is a priority for the university.
UQAT: Working together
The afternoon provided an opportunity for everyone to discuss ways of getting involved and actively contributing to the reconciliation process. “UQAT strives to show leadership on Indigenous issues and is proud to have hosted an event that does just that,” says Vincent Rousson, Assistant Vice-Rector for Development of Services and Partnerships. “Whether through teaching, research, and innovation or in partnership with community services, UQAT wants to use its expertise and unique approach to help drive growth and change.” The School of Indigenous Studies, the Continuing Education Service, the Research, Training, and Development Unit on Education in Inuit and First Nations Settings (URFDEMIA), and the First Peoples Service are all examples of structures put in place by UQAT to build and strengthen partnerships with Inuit and First Nations. By fostering dialogue, these structures play a decisive role in the ongoing process of improving intercommunity relations.
For further information: Catherine Bérubé-Leblanc, Information Officer, Communications and Recruitment, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 819-762-0971, ext. 2079, firstname.lastname@example.org