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Editor’s Note, May-June 2021

An important step toward truth and reconciliation
And greetings from the new editor

In its final report released in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stated that “much of the current state of troubled relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians is attributable to educational institutions and what they have taught, or failed to teach, over many generations. Despite that history, or, perhaps more correctly, because of its potential, the Commission
believes that education is also the key to reconciliation.”

Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC, put it more bluntly. “Education has got us into this mess, and education will get us out,” he was quoted as saying.

In our cover story, Mohawk journalist Kelly Boutsalis, who’s from the Six Nations reserve, takes a look at how some universities are weaving traditional knowledge and western science together into programs and courses, offering students a broader world view of environmental sciences. Such efforts — and the way they are coming about, through true partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities — represent an important part on the continuing journey towards truth and reconciliation.

Also in this issue, freelance journalist Ishani Nath chronicles how the challenge of offering mental health services to students was met as they shifted online without warning or much infrastructure.

Rounding out the feature well is a story on the state of water resourcesin our country. Contributor Kerry Banks found that the common perception of Canada’s water abundance is not what it seems.

On a personal note, this U of Ottawa graduate is very pleased to serve as the new editor of University Affairs and write his first editor’s note. After spending the first decade of my career as a print reporter and editor, I eventually worked at the University of Alberta, where I served in a variety of communications roles over 14 years.
When I started there, someone asked me why I chose to work at a university. “Because of its mission,” I said. The opportunity to work at and contribute in some small way to an institution that helps people develop their potential, that pushes the boundaries of knowledge and shares it to make our world a better place, was too good to pass up.

As it covers the university sector, University Affairs also has a mission in which I believe. I’ll have more to say about it, and the implications that has on our coverage, in future notes and in what I hope will be an ongoing lively, provocative and thoughtful discussion with you, our readers, about all things university affairs.

Michel Proulx