Robert Haché is the President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurentian University
There is no ‘single story’ of the Laurentian University student. In pursuit of self-discovery, our students have vibrantly diverse and sometimes opposing views. Yet they are also part of a community, one in part driven by shared outlooks on the world.
In the past sixty years, we have provided an education to 66,000+ thought leaders committed to the idea of building, nurturing, and contributing to the prosperity of their communities here in the North, across Ontario, and beyond.
Laurentian students are multicultural and richly diverse. They are driven by curiosity in their learning, teaching, and research. They prioritize their relationships with each other and with the community. They are breaking trails within their families and on behalf of communities around the globe.
Above all, they honour our tricultural roots, celebrating Indigenous and Francophone cultures here on Turtle Island, in Ontario, and around the globe.
Laurentian is Canada’s only university with a tricultural mandate, offering a post-secondary experience in English and French with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education. These principles are a point of pride, they are part of our story, and of what we aspire to be as a community.
Much ink has flowed over the future of Laurentian’s tricultural mandate, calling into question whether or not the sacred character of our cultural identity will be preserved as we navigate a restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).
Yet as I recently wrote in an open letter to the community, a new Laurentian is one that emphasizes and values Indigenous and Francophone programming, learning, and teaching, principles that are very much a part of the fabric of who we are as an academic community.
A new Laurentian will provide our community with the opportunity to reinvent itself and deepen its commitment to Indigenous and French-language education. To be a university where our students are culturally diverse and culturally aware. Immersed in more than one language. And proud of it.
A new Laurentian offers us the possibility to live up to the promise of our tricultural mandate by further immersing ourselves in our budding trilingualism, bringing our respect, pride, and enthusiasm for the Anishinaabemowin language to bear on our community’s tricultural identity.
We will earnestly uphold the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and work to heal our relationship with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, honouring our connection to the land and the history of the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek on which Laurentian is situated.
We will celebrate the grit and determination of Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, further honouring the advocacy of many in the Laurentian community who have led the way for the inclusion and vitality of the Anishinaabemowin language on our campus.
Together, we will continue to write the Laurentian story: one where we rise to the challenge of who we aspire to be as a community of learners determined to realize our full potential, changemakers who will shape the future of our communities here on Turtle Island, in the North, and across Ontario, and beyond.