The Privilege of Not Walking Away: Indigenous Women’s Perspectives of Reconciliation in the Academy


  • Jennifer Ward University of Alberta
  • Janice Cindy Gaudet University of Alberta
  • Tricia McGuire-Adams University of Ottawa



The release of the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report titled “Honouring the Truth and Reconciling for the Future” has evoked a persistent call within learning institutions to Indigenize education, decolonize systems of power, and reconcile Indigenous–settler relations and knowledge. Within this context, the TRC’s “Calls to Action” are frequently invoked by institutions attempting to achieve just action. While reconciliation remains a complex, political, and settler-driven endeavour, there has been an effort to “fill the gap” with Indigenous presence, knowledge, and students within academic institutions. Given the limited research on the gendered aspect of reconciliation, our paper contributes to this conversation by examining the impact of the “filling effort” on our critical community work and the ways in which we as Indigenous women engage in reconciliation. By this, we mean the ways we live and understand reconciliation by looking inward toward each other as women, to learn from each other, and to lift each other up. Through a relational accountability methodology and mixed methods (Wilson 2008), we draw strength from our relational and resurgence approaches in an effort to capture our commitment, challenges, and transformative vision of reconciliation as Indigenous women in the academy.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Ward, University of Alberta

My name is Jennifer Ward. I am an Umpqua, Algonquin, and Walla Walla woman. I am a PhD student in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. I am an Educational Developer in the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Alberta. My diverse roles as a mother, wife, sister, auntie, niece and caregiver have allowed me to think deeply about reconciliation and its effects on women to carry the weight of reconciling historical and contemporary effects of Indigenous-Settler relations.

Janice Cindy Gaudet, University of Alberta

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta. As a Métis woman, auntie, grandmother, sister, and educator, I am interested in learning more about our roles and responsibilities to taking care of ourselves, each other, our relatives and our land as Indigenous women engaged as academics within the University of Alberta. In this time of reconciliation, there has been added pressures and at times this has been confusing and frustrating as the only Indigenous woman within a Faculty.

Tricia McGuire-Adams, University of Ottawa

I am an Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa. I am a mother, a researcher, and an  Indigenous feminist. I belong to Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek. I am a new Assistant Professor in the Facuties of Kinesiology, Sport & Recreation and Native Studies. My research is driven by Anishinaabeg ways of being in research to better understand how physical activity amplifies decolonization and regeneration.