‘Canada’s Finest Regional University’ embraces Indigenous approaches with new Strategic Plan

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Brandon University will be recognized as Canada’s Finest Regional University under the leadership of a new strategic plan that will guide BU for the coming five years.

“Regional universities like BU are essential parts of Canada’s post-secondary system, providing unparalleled focus on the regions we call home, and this plan reinforces our natural strengths,” said BU President Dr. David Docherty. “The wonderful relationships we have with our region, especially with the Indigenous communities who know this land so well, inspire the reciprocal learning that this plan embraces.”

Docherty recently unveiled the full plan to the BU campus, and he will host a second virtual Town Hall on Tuesday. In the coming weeks and months, he will be presenting elements of the plan widely on campus and in the community.

The plan was unanimously approved by the BU Board of Governors earlier this year and has also been enthusiastically endorsed by the BU Senate. Following its formal approval, final design work was completed, and an Indigenous name was sought for the plan as a whole.

“We are honoured to have been gifted the Michif name Mamaawii-atooshke aakihkiwiin, which can be translated as ‘Working Together and Growing,’” Docherty said. “This name perfectly reflects the partnership and community action that is woven throughout our plan.”

Among the many valuable elements to Mamaawii-atooshke aakihkiwiin, Docherty highlighted three of the most significant:

  • Our vision is for Brandon University to be recognized as Canada’s Finest Regional University.Regional universities like ours play a vital yet underappreciated role in Canada’s post-secondary system. We are intellectual, social, cultural, and economic hubs for our region, and choice meeting places. We share the best of ourselves with the world while staying focused on our neighbours. Brandon University is already among the finest examples of this type! Our plan will guide continued improvement of ourselves as well as better recognition of the essential role that universities like BU play in communities across the country.
  • We are embracing the Indigenous image of the braid to guide our actions.A braid is a metaphor that is fundamentally unlike Settler imagery of pillars or spires, which are often the defaults in strategic plans. A braid is a symbol of unification, not of siloed division. Braiding is a mindful process of creation, wherein multiple strands are woven together to create something that is strong yet flexible. Braiding is an ongoing action with endless potential.
  • All of us will be called to Be Agile, Be Courageous, and Be Inclusive.Every person at Brandon University can be guided by these imperatives every day as we support one other. You are called to move quickly and without delay. You will be expected to do the right thing without fear of failure. You will be supported, and in turn you should act with everyone’s benefit in mind.

“Our plan is ambitious and inspiring,” Docherty said. “Crafted with the full lessons of the pandemic in mind, Mamaawii-atooshke aakihkiwiin will help us flexibly meet challenges that we cannot yet anticipate, while ensuring that we continue to strive towards being the best that BU can be.”

As befits Canada’s finest regional university, the strategic plan was a true community endeavour, and it is the result of many months of thoughtful and considered consultation, with wide representation from across campus, as well as in the community.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank the dozens of volunteers and scores of other people who provided insightful and thoughtful feedback and suggestions throughout the development of this plan,” Docherty said. “This week, I reached back out to the main planning group, our Strategic Plan Advisory Committee, and asked them if they would join us in weaving the next portion of the braid, as we turn advice into action. They will form the nucleus of our Strategic Plan Action Committee — a committee that will grow and evolve with our plan itself.”

The plan calls for a renewed emphasis on vibrant campus space — well-known needs on campus that will have a renewed purpose as Brandon University welcomes faculty, staff, and students back to a fuller in-person experience this fall.

“We know we will have some third-year students who have not yet set foot on campus, and we want to give everyone a safe and special welcome back. This is an opportunity to refresh and rethink as much as it is a return,” Docherty said. “We will be supporting spaces for serendipity, where the exciting conversations and unplanned interactions that define the magic of our campus can happen.”

The full plan is available at BrandonU.ca/Strategic-Plan


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