Ever since Claudette Commanda walked onto the campus of the College of Ottawa over three many years in the past, she’s been a driving power for change.
Because the college’s subsequent chancellor, succeeding Calin Rovinescu, whose time period will finish within the fall, she hopes the brand new position will assist her work for change for the betterment of Indigenous college students.
“I needed to all the time be a part of this college to make change,” stated Commanda, who’s an Anishinaabe (Algonquin) elder from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in western Quebec.
“Adjustments are wanted to create and or improve relationships with Indigenous communities, but in addition to lift the notice of the significance that Indigenous college students have a spot in a college world.”
The chancellor, a ceremonial or govt head of a college, is appointed by a board of governors and holds workplace for 4 years, with eligibility for re-appointment. She is the primary Indigenous chief to tackle the position on the College of Ottawa.
“She is going to proceed bringing her management, ardour, and knowledge, on behalf of Indigenous peoples to the college as an entire,” stated college president and vice-chancellor Jacques Frémont in a press release.
Commanda has an extended historical past with the college. First as a pupil in 1987, she graduated with levels from the college of arts and the college of regulation.
Throughout her research, she based a First Nations pupil affiliation to enhance their illustration on campus and established what’s now known as the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Useful resource Centre.
Through the years, she’s taught on the Institute of Girls’s Research, the college of regulation, and the college of training, and the Indigenous research program.
Most not too long ago, she was the inaugural elder-in-residence appointed to the college of regulation, and served as particular adviser on reconciliation to the dean of the college of regulation.
Significant for Indigenous college students
For Indigenous college students, the appointment alerts change on the college.
“Claudette is from the identical neighborhood I’m, and this issues so deeply to me as an Anishinabekwe,” stated Victoria Marchand, who’s learning social sciences and Indigenous research.
“Many college students do not know what a chancellor or senate of a college is strolling into post-secondary…. Seeing a big place crammed, I hope to see the trickle-down and have tangible impacts.”
Tewateronhiakhwa Nelson, who not too long ago graduated from regulation faculty, echoed related sentiments.
“A college sitting on unceded Algonquin territory ought to have that illustration, no questions requested,” stated Nelson, who’s from Kanesatake, northwest of Montreal.
“Our Indigenous college students want to have the ability to see that the sky is the restrict and we’re completely capable of occupy these colonial areas, particularly such excessive positions the place they play a major position inside the establishment.”
As for Commanda, the position is a chance to deliver who she is to the college.
“I am very proud to be an Algonquin particular person to hold this title, to present extra visibility on campus who Algonquin persons are, our historical past, our methods of figuring out, our methods of being,” she stated.
LISTEN to Claudette Commanda converse to CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning about her appointment:
Ottawa Morning7:10Claudette Commanda named uOttawa chancellor