Christy Bressette, Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Initiatives)

christy bressette

Christy R. Bressette is Western’s first Vice-Provost & Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Initiatives). Christy—whose Anishinabek name is Neeta-Noo-Kee Kwe (Hard-Working Woman)—joined Western on March 1, 2021, after serving as the National Coordinator for Indigenous Education with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada since 2008. Serving with passion and commitment over the past two decades, Christy has also supported area Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee, and Lenape Nations, as well as Friendship Centres, within work to advance education outcomes for Indigenous learners in the areas of policy, curriculum, and governance. 

As one of the first Indigenous women to earn a PhD in Educational Studies from Western, where she also earned her BA (Honours) in History and BEd (with distinction), Christy has strong ties to Western. In addition to teaching at the primary and secondary level in Ontario and British Columbia, she has also taught several graduate-level courses related to Indigenous culture and education in Western’s Faculty of Education since 2004. In 2017/18, she co-chaired the Provost’s Task Force on the Implementation of Western’s Indigenous Strategic Plan (2017/18). Throughout her career, Christy has demonstrated an astute ability for bridging cultural differences between people to help ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality education opportunities for all.

Indigenous Initiatives Portfolio

The Indigenous Initiatives portfolio consists of the three main areas: Indigenous Advisory Groups and Engagements; Indigenous Strategic Planning and Implementation; and Indigenous Learning Space-Engagement and Planning.

Indigenous Advisory Groups and Engagements
The Special Advisor to the Provost (Indigenous Initiatives) ensures ongoing engagement with the Indigenous community.

The Special Advisor acts as Secretary for the University’s Indigenous Postsecondary Education Council (IPEC). Established in 1995, Western’s Indigenous Postsecondary Education Council – formally called the Aboriginal Employment and Education Council – acts as an ongoing mechanism for the University to seek advice and engage Indigenous communities in postsecondary matters on campus. Council members meet at least four times per year and includes a wide range of members from both on and off campus.

The Special Advisor chairs the Indigenous Faculty Advisory Council. Established in October 2018, the body engages Indigenous faculty leaders at Western in ongoing conversations surrounding academic Indigenization efforts at the university. Council members meet every other month to provide direction on key matters related to Indigenization, decolonization and reconciliation.

Indigenous Strategic Planning and Implementation
The Special Advisor to the Provost (Indigenous Initiatives) leads campus partners in the ongoing implementation of Western’s Indigenous Strategic Plan. In 2017-18, the Provost assembled a Task Force on the Implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan and issued a final report defining the scope of the task.

Indigenous Learning Space – Engagement & Planning
Special Advisor to the Provost (Indigenous Initiatives) engages the community in the development of Indigenous learning spaces on campus.

In the context of increasing efforts of Indigenize Canadian universities, Western called for an increase in gathering spaces for Indigenous learning and presence of Indigenous cultures, languages and symbols across campus. This project draws on an Indigenous urban planning philosophical approach that aims to work with Indigenous peoples from the early stages of development to completion; begins space planning with Indigenous values and traditions; and works to address unequal power relations in dominant public spaces.