University of Saskatchewan alumni pen letter on racism to administration

University says it’s reviewing the letter sent by alumni


More than 200 University of Saskatchewan Alumni signed a letter outlining several complaints within the College of Education over racist policies at the school.

“We know many people over the last two and a half years have made formal complaints to the University of Saskatchewan about the toxic environment and lack of support but nothing’s been done,” says Sheelah McLean, one of the alumni who signed the 15 page letter.

The letter addresses their concerns about racism including, “Indigenous faculty, staff and students facing institutional and individual racial hostility, the impact on public education across the province, in particular for marginalized students and community members that face a violent settler colonial context, the climate of fear and the silencing of people who shared concerns about the administration’s policies, allies supportive of Indigenous faculty and staff have been targeted and the lack of ethical hiring practices and appointments through nepotism.”

Mclean says their main concern is with the College of Education and it’s administration.

“They are going in a direction that lack of support is going to affect our public education systems across Saskatchewan we are training teachers there,” says McLean.

One of the Indigenous staff that left was former professor and former chair of Indigenous Education Jeff Baker.

He resigned because he felt the environment was toxic and he didn’t feel that his work was being supported.

Baker is also one of the people who signed  the letter and feels the university needs to do better in supporting Indigenous staff and teachings.

“This is really about out public education system and the institution that trains the teachers that are going to be shaping our society in Saskatchewan and Canada for years and generations to come,” says Baker

McLean says since the letter has been released the University of Saskatchewan is most likely reviewing the long list of complaints.

“My understanding is their is going to be a review and there is going to be an investigation regarding all of the complaints that have come forward and regarding the open letter,” says McLean

APTN News contacted the university to a comment on the letter and sent this statement.

“I am aware of the open letter posted to social media recently. The College of Education is a national leader in Indigenous education programming,” said Melissa Just, interim provost and vice-president academic at the university. “The president, the vice-provost Indigenous engagement and I have had very constructive meetings with faculty association representatives, as well as faculty members in the college, to discuss and explore the points recently raised regarding Indigenous faculty.

“Indigenization is one of USask’s top priorities, and is core to our University Plan.”

Reporter / Saskatoon

Priscilla is Cree and a member of Mistawasis Nehiyawak in Saskatchewan. She has worked with APTN National News in the past as a reporter in Winnipeg, host for an entertainment segment, and the 2010 Winter Olympics. Wolf is an alumni of the INCA –Indian Communications Arts Program at FNUC & has a BA of Indigenous Studies from the University of Regina. She brings over ten years of experience working in media across the prairie provinces.