Trent University’s Board of Governors endorsed the recommendations in the Report of the University’s Champlain Committee on Friday, October 14, 2022.
The Committee’s eight recommendations are part of a 28-page report that is the result of a nine-month investigation into the legacy of Samuel de Champlain and its implications for Champlain College and Trent University.
The Committee was chaired by the University’s vice-president of Communications and Enrolment, Marilyn Burns. It included:
- Professor Nicole Bell, School of Education, from Kitigan Zibi First Nation
- Gracie Crafts, a Trent student from Wasauksing First Nation in the Indigenous Environmental Science B.Sc. program, vice-president, Trent University Native Association (TUNA);
- Yancy Craig, alumnus, from Six Nations of the Grand River, vice-president at Indspire
- Michael Eamon, the principal of Traill College and a professor of public history
- Harvey McCue (Waubageshig) alumnus of Champlain College, one of the founders of Native Studies at Trent University, from the Georgina Island First Nation
- Kate Norlock, the Kenneth Mark Drain chair in ethics, a professor in the Department of Philosophy
- Emma Phillips, a student in the Bachelor of Environmental Science and Studies program, prime minister of Champlain College Cabinet
- François Senécal, alumnus, practicing lawyer in Montreal, former president of Champlain College Cabinet
More information on the Committee and its members can be found in the Champlain Report.
In its deliberations, the Committee listened to delegations, received close to 150 written submissions, and hosted an event in which students were encouraged to review studies of Samuel de Champlain and share their own insights and questions about his legacy. In considering its recommendations, the Committee looked at Champlain’s relationships with Indigenous nations, his views of Indigenous-settler relations, and the extent to which the cartographic and ethnographic information left behind by Champlain have been helpful to an understanding of the history of that era and to First Nations in identifying information and areas for land claims.
Highlights of the Champlain Report include recommendations to:
- move a bust and artwork depicting Champlain from the College to the University Archives, where they can be studied with background information and corresponding Indigenous artwork;
- the introduction of a new cornerstone at the College to recognize Indigenous people and language, in particular the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg (Anishnaabemowin); and
- retain the name of Champlain College, and give the new college and residence, which the University plans to open, an Indigenous name from the Anishnaabemowin language, in consultation with the Elders and local First Nations.
Trent’s president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Leo Groarke, welcomed the Report.
“I want to thank the members of the Champlain Committee on behalf of our community,” said President Groarke. “They were tasked with difficult questions and have addressed them in ways that are a reflection of the University’s central mission as an academic institution, and our continuing commitment to reconciliation, engagement with First Nations, and scholarship, research, knowledge, and teaching.”
As the Committee recommends, the University will be adding Indigenous names to a variety of spaces on its campuses, and providing historical contexts that shed light on, and promote the discussion of, the honorific names the University uses. The University’s Naming Committee, which reports to the Board of Governors, will begin considerations of a name for the next college the University plans to build beginning next year.
The chair of Trent University’s Board of Governors, Debra Cooper-Burger, noted that “the Champlain Report will ensure that the University places more emphasis on the recognition and inclusion of the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg legacy at Trent. In this way, the report will have a lasting impact and be another important step in reconciliation at Trent, in a way that emphasizes local First Nations.”