Translations of Braiding Past, Present and Future

Braiding Past, Present and Future:
University of Alberta Indigenous Strategic Plan

This plan reflects an important step in our institution’s commitment to reconciliation in post-secondary education, research and addressing the historical legacy of the residential school system and Canada’s colonial history in a meaningful and lasting way.

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The Braid

The plan is grouped into three categories or “strands”– symbolizing the responsibilities of the Sweetgrass Teachings: looking to the past, in-powering the present and imagining the future. These three groupings represent a sweetgrass braid and the accompanying prairie and parkland-based Indigenous understandings (where the University of Alberta is primarily, though importantly, not only, based). In many Indigenous cultures, the braid also represents mind, body and spirit and the balance between the three for good health and harmony in individuals and communities.

Looking to the Past

1.0 Indigenous leadership and co-ordination

2.0 Accountability and reporting

3.0 Indigenous Ways of Knowing: programs

4.0. Relationship with Indigenous lands and nations

5.0 Indigenous-centred policy, protocol and praxis

6.0 Reconciliation research and scholarship

7.0 University of Alberta community participation in reconciliation

In-Powering the Present

8.0. Indigenous students: recruitment, retention and completion

9.0 Indigenous student attainment: tackling barriers

10.0 Indigenous faculty and staff: recruitment and retention

11.0 Safe and welcoming spaces

Imagining the Future

12.0 Ethical research with Indigenous nations, peoples and lands

13.0 Indigenous-led research capacity development

14.0 Indigenous community engagement: nations, organizations and peoples

15.0 Indigenous community-engaged research

16.0 Indigenous community engagement: University of Alberta Senate

17.0 Indigenous community engagement: University of Alberta Alumni

18.0 Innovative funding

Celebrate the Launch

The entire campus community is invited to view the livestream of the celebratory launch of Braiding Past, Present and Future: University of Alberta Indigenous Strategic Plan. Watch performances from dancers and musicians, and listen to remarks from Dr. Florence Glanfield, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming and Research, President Bill Flanagan and Indigenous leaders as the university embarks on the next steps of this journey.

A t-shirt has been created for the launch of the plan, available for purchase now in the Bookstore on North Campus. All the proceeds from the sales go to the Indigenous Student Financial Support Fund.

Collection of images from celebrations of Indigenous people and events at the university

Opening Messages

Dr. Florence Glanfield, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming and Research

Dr. Florence Glanfield, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming and Research

Message from the Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming and Research

The ISP recognizes our collective responsibility to acknowledge our history and to honour those that came before us and to follow the seven sacred teachings — love, respect, honesty, courage, wisdom, and humility; to know the first six together is to know truth.

President Bill Flanagan

Bill Flanagan, University of Alberta President and Vice-Chancellor

Message from the President and Vice-Chancellor

The Braiding Past, Present and Future: University of Alberta Indigenous Strategic Plan will enable transformative institutional practices that tackle the full scope of these endeavours. Reconciliation is not a destination but a journey in which we all have a part to play.

Beadwork by Tara Kappo

Beadwork by Tara Kappo, who is Woodland Cree and a U of A grad

Messages from the Indigenous Strategic Plan

Listen to stories highlighting the importance of truth, reconciliation and impact of Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Alberta.

Watch Playlist


As part of the struggle to address colonialism and its subjugation, Indigenous peoples have continuously fought against the structures, laws and practices meant to disempower in order to assert Indigenous rights and seek a just relationship with the state and beyond.

At the University of Alberta, the work of Indigenous advocates and allies has led to the truly impactful Indigenous programs, initiatives and course offerings that we know and celebrate today, such as the Faculty of Native Studies, the Transition Year Program, the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program and the Specialization in Indigenous Peoples Education graduate program, to name but a few. This plan acknowledges the courage and strength of the Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Indigenous leaders and allies who “walked the path” to bring about the changes that have allowed us to reach the place we are at in the journey towards Indigenous sovereignty and wellness.

Woman wearing a beaded and fringed jacket

Woman wearing a beaded and fringed jacket

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

The context of this journey is critical and it is only recently that a more collective understanding of the history that continues to shape the historical and lived experiences of Indigenous peoples has emerged.

Mixed media sculpture of a parent tying the shoes of a young child. Artist unknown.

Sculpture of a parent tying a child's shoes

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) represents another key political milestone for Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Dr. James Makokis

Dr. James Makokis


There is a significant expectation from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike that the University of Alberta takes up its role in Indigenous-focused work and reconciliation.

Affirmation for Action by the University Community

The U of A acknowledges that indigenization is an institutional journey that will likely take generations to address. Only intentional, conscientious, systemic changes can move the institution closer to these critical goals. In the spirit of these understandings — and with an acknowledgment that the work to indigenize the institution touches on every academic, administrative and operational aspect of the university — we, as signatories, affirm our commitment as individuals, as educators, as researchers, as administrators and as leaders to act on Indigenous Initiatives within our units and across the institution.

An encampment on Rossdale Flats in April 1919

An encampment on Rossdale Flats, April 1919. Provincial Archives of Alberta, B882.


With gratitude, we acknowledge our ancestors for the strength of spirit that is our inheritance from the endless generations that came before. We honour our ancestral lines, carrying forward the gifts, traditions and hopes they bequeathed us.

We offer thanks to the Elders, Indigenous leaders, students, colleagues, alumni and non-Indigenous allies at the University of Alberta for the courageous and often difficult work that they did in the past to lead us to this moment. We are grateful for the opportunity to honour them by carrying this work forward.

We acknowledge the many elders and knowledge keepers that currently serve as advisors, spiritual leaders, teachers, participants and community advocates with the university. The work of the university, across spaces including research, student supports, community engagement and curriculum, is supported by the many relationships with diverse elders and knowledge keepers. They have generously shared their knowledge and time with the University of Alberta, helping the institution to ground its work in Indigenous teachings, moving towards richer conceptions of reconciliation.

We are grateful to Elder Fernie Marty for sharing his knowledge of the Sweetgrass Teachings, to Dr. Carl Urion and Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper for the teachings about the University of Alberta’s journey and to Doreen Daychief, Edna Elias, Elmer Ghostkeeper, Dorothy Thunder, Gil Anderson, Lyndon Aginas, Dr. Betty Bastien, Isadore Kootenay, Phillip Cardinal and Lynda Minoose for their sharing of Braiding Past, Present, and Future in their languages.