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Friday Fragments

Good morning, and TGIF!

I feel like I’ve been riding the rapids all week – but no, I was not on vacation. My apologies to those of you who double-checked your spam filters to see whether I was trapped there. Sorry, I was just consumed by my own work, with 3 consecutive virtual events this week, culminating in a state of flow in which I described how “the Future is Fluid” to the eCampus Ontario board, and then explored workflow systems and challenges with my university CMO Roundtable.

Like any marathon, I made it through the week satisfied with the accomplishment but tired out, and conscious of the need for some self-care. So, while much of my week flowed thematically, today’s issue will be more of a miscellany – so I’m borrowing Matt Reed’s weekly column title, “Friday Fragments,” to sum it up.

I want to share some news on several stories I’ve been monitoring closely: 3 more Ontario PSEs have announced a vaccine requirement for students in residence this Fall, and there’s more news out of Sudbury in the Laurentian saga. But while readers in Quebec may have had the day off yesterday in the name of Saint John the Baptist, but the day’s headlines made it tough to “celebrate” a Catholic holy day…



Cowessess Tragedy

Since Jun 1, Canadians have experienced a national “shockwave of grief” throughout Indigenous History Month. It began, of course, with the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former Kamloops residential school. I’ve noted some of the impacts of the discovery on CdnPSE, from lowered pride flags to protests and debates over honorary degrees, institutional names and statues. Archaeologists are assisting with ground-penetrating radar, legal profs forecasting wrongful death lawsuits, and presidents mourning the tragedy and lasting trauma of the residential school system. From coast to coast, communities have been cancelling Canada Day celebrations entirely, from Victoria BC and St Albert AB to Bathurst, Saint John and Fredericton NB.  (Fleming College is encouraging its community to spend July 1 as a day of “reflection and acknowledgement.”)

Compounding the sorrow in Kamloops, in the same week Canadians recognized National Indigenous Peoples Day, we were forced to confront a growing recognition of the scope of truth and reconciliation still to come…


More Evil at Marieval

Earlier this month, a team of technicians from Saskatchewan Polytechnic began deploying drones and ground-penetrating radar at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, about 160 km east of Regina. Yesterday, the Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of up to 751 individual unmarked graves, including adults and children. “In 1960, there may have been marks on these graves,” but they were later removed by Church representatives – a crime in Canada. “We are treating this like a crime scene.” So far, just  44,000 sq m have been investigated, and other sites have yet to be investigated, including areas where unbaptized babies are said to have been buried. The federal government has announced funding to investigate sites across the country, and Indigenous groups are calling for criminal charges to be laid against those found to be “complicit.”  Globe & Mail


“We knew there were going to be more discoveries such as this, however nothing truly prepares you emotionally.”Jerry Daniels, Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief


“They made us believe we didn’t have souls.”Florence Sparvier, Cowessess Elder and survivor of Marieval Residential School



Recognition and Sorrow

For a second time this month, CdnPSEs coast to coast have lowered flags to half-staff, expressed remorse and grief, and shared crisis counselling and mental health resources for those most affected in their communities. This morning, uSaskatchewan is holding a gathering in the campus Bowl, “to enable people to come together, acknowledge the pain and grief suffered by all members of our university community who experienced firsthand or indirectly this tragedy, and begin to heal.” In his statement on the Cowessess tragedy yesterday, uSask president Peter Stoicheff cites TRC commissioner Marie Wilson: “The voices of the children are being heard, and we’re beginning to listen.”


Brace for Even More

Sadly, the discoveries at Kamloops and Marieval are only the beginning of what will be a long and painful process. In all, there were 139 federally-funded residential schools across Canada, about 60% operated by the Catholic Church. An estimated 150,000 children attended those schools, and some calculate that 15,000-25,000 died there during the Spanish Flu and Tuberculosis epidemics – a level of mortality some 19x higher than among other Canadian schoolchildren at the time. “We pluck up kids from a number of different communities and cram them into a single school — poorly ventilated, poorly heated, poor diet — and of course these diseases are going to just explode like wildfire within those places.” Experts like Lakehead U prof Scott Hamilton expected a national investigation would have been launched back in 2015, but instead it took 6 more years.  Regina Leader-Post



Mandatory Vaccines

Since late March, I’ve been anticipating a growing number of CdnPSE announcements making COVID19 vaccinations mandatory on campus, to enable the return of more normal student life this Fall (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies). At least 540 US campuses have already shown the way, and in the past month I’ve chronicled similar announcements at Western, Fanshawe, Trent, uToronto, Ryerson and (last Friday) Seneca. Now we can add 3 more Ontario institutions to the growing list…


Durham & Ontario Tech

Durham College and Ontario Tech U announced Monday a vaccine requirement for students living in campus residences during the 2021-22 academic year. Students will be required to have received “at least one dose of a WHO-approved COVID19 vaccine and have their second dose scheduled.” Some exemptions will be provided on medical grounds, or under the Ontario Human Rights Code. “It is our goal to ensure that students enjoy the full benefits of their residence experience when they arrive in the fall – and mandatory vaccinations as a condition of residence occupancy will help make this possible.”  DC  |  Ontario Tech


York University

On Wednesday, York U announced that it will be requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-22 academic year to be vaccinated against COVID19. “Through this commitment to protecting health and safety, the goal is to help students return this fall to the residence life experience they have come to know and expect.” The requirement does not extend to York students living off-campus, or in York U apartments. Exemptions can be requested on medical or human rights grounds.  York



Postscript: Laurentian

Since my last update on Laurentian a week ago, there have been a few more developments worth noting. (See the Insider Recap, “Laurentian in Limbo,” if you want an exhaustive look at the whole saga as it has unfolded over the past year.) In the past few days we’ve seen changes (and non-changes) in leadership, unfavourable court decisions, and more enrolment details…


About that 30% Drop…

Last Thursday I reported on the latest OUAC confirmation stats, showing what is shaping up to be a 30% drop in first-year enrolment at Laurentian this Fall. By Friday I was corresponding with journalists in northern Ontario, who quickly pursued the story and obtained a reaction from LU. “It would not have been realistic to expect otherwise,” said president Robert Haché. LUSU president Tom Fenske says 30% student loss was considered a “worst-case scenario.” LU says the enrolment drop “was anticipated as a result of the CCAA process,” but counters that they are seeing “higher-than-expected” interest from international students. (Of course, we have no way of knowing how low those expectations might have been.) LU’s confirmation numbers have set back the institution’s enrolment to pre-2001 levels.  CTV  |  CTV TV  |


New Low for Thorneloe

I mentioned a week ago that the legal appeal by Thorneloe U was still before the courts, protesting the judge’s May 2 decision to unilaterally dissolve the 60-year-old Laurentian federation. Sadly, the panel of 3 Court of Appeal judges announced this week that they are “simply not persuaded” Thorneloe should be allowed to appeal Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz’s decision. (That decision rested on a suspicious, last-minute demand from LU’s DIP lender that the termination of the federation was non-negotiable.) “Attempting to ‘unscramble the egg’ through an appeal would unduly hinder the progress of the CCAA proceeding.” Although Thorneloe is continuing to offer theology classes, its lawyer argued that it would face bankruptcy if LU’s “disclaimer” of the federation were allowed to stand. Thorneloe is continuing to negotiate a termination agreement with LU, “including severance for most of the faculty members whose jobs end Jun 30.” President John Gibault says Thorneloe is shrinking but won’t disappear completely: “We’ve gone from 2,500 students to 40… [and] from over 40 employees down to about 4.” Its residences may be offered to LU students this Fall.  |  CBC


“We’ve gone from 2,500 students to 40… [and from] 40 employees down to about 4… but we’re still there and we’re going to keep building from there.”John Gibault, President, Thorneloe U



New Blood at uSudbury

After a challenging few years leading the federated university through unprecedented turbulence – both the COVID19 pandemic and the financial collapse of Laurentian – Father John Meehan is leaving his post as president of uSudbury to become director of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at Trinity College, uToronto. The uSudbury board announced this week the appointment of another historian, Serge Milville, in his place, a “decisive move” and “generational change in leadership” to advance uSudbury’s ambition to become “a leading francophone university in the province of Ontario.” Until recently, Miville was research chair in Franco-Ontarian History at Laurentian, and director of the Institut Franco-Ontarien, which has relocated its offices to uSudbury. Milville says he hopes to open the doors to students this September.  |  uSudbury


“I am profoundly optimistic about the future of our university, about the future of francophone higher-level education, and remain hopeful our partners in the provincial and federal governments will be of assistance as we serve the francophone community, but most of all, as we attempt to open our doors to students in September 2021.”Serge Miville, incoming President, uSudbury



Doubling Down on Lacroix

The Laurentian U board of governors has reappointed lawyer Claude Lacroix as board chair for up to one year, effectively doubling down on the CCAA strategy launched under his leadership. (Once again, the DIP lender imposed the condition on its latest loan that “no material changes to LU’s governance or senior leadership” create instability. Convenient, eh?) “This strategic renewal will enable an important continuity of leadership and stability within our board of governors as we complete the CCAA process.” Lacroix has been a member of the LU board since 2006, and graduated with a BA from LU in 1991.  Sudbury Star  |


Franco-Ontarian Reset?

We may be looking at a bit of a “reset” in Franco-Ontarian PSE, with new leadership at uSudbury, the hiring of former uHearst president Pierre Ouellette as the new leader of Toronto’s Université de l’Ontario Français, and the replacement of Ross Romano with Jill Dunlop as MCU Minister. Romano has been shuffled by Premier Doug Ford into the ministry of Government and Consumer Services. Organizations protesting the LU insolvency process are claiming a somewhat hollow victory, since they have been campaigning for Romano’s resignation since April. Nipissing U politics prof David Tabachnick observed that the cabinet shuffle seems primarily focused on adding women and visible diversity to cabinet, in anticipation of an election next year.  CBC




After writing about Laurentian I always need a palate cleanser!  How about this?


How to Human

Lyft, the ride-hailing competitor to Uber, launched a new advertising campaign in May playing on the learning curve we’ll all face as we “learn to human” once more. (In the US, ridership is already recovering. The campaign will launch in Vancouver only when public sentiment will support it.) Spots in the campaign parody online “how-to” videos, featuring riders en route to overdue haircuts and birthday parties, struggling to remember how to say hello to a driver, manage their schedules, go on a date, or simply “escape your blanket cocoon.”  Marketing Dive



As always, thanks for reading! I’ll be back on Monday with my weekly “Pandemic Précis,” and I hope to summarize Fall plans (as long promised) before taking an extra-long weekend for Canada Day.

 Please do drop me a line if you spot something interesting, thought-provoking or cool happening on your campus, or elsewhere in the world!

 Meanwhile, have a wonderful, and safe, weekend!




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