June 19, 2023

Michael Hart re-appointed as vice-provost (Indigenous engagement)

A message from Interim Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Penny Werthner
Michael Hart

I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Hart, PhD, has been reappointed for a second term as vice-provost (Indigenous engagement). Following Dr. Hart’s confirmation of his willingness to be considered for reappointment, an advisory review committee was established. This committee considered Dr. Hart’s performance during his first term as vice-provost and invited and reviewed feedback from those within the Office of Indigenous Engagement and our community. The committee’s recommendation and feedback were shared with President and Vice-Chancellor Ed McCauley, PhD, who was pleased to accept the recommendation and proceed with renewal.

Dr. Hart, who is Cree from Fisher River Cree Nation, Manitoba and has an extensive background in Indigenous social work, was first appointed to the role of vice-provost in 2018. In this capacity, he is responsible for the implementation of the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p and Indigenous engagement in the areas of teaching, learning and research. He holds a BSW, MSW and PhD in social work from the University of Manitoba, as well as a BA in psychology from the University of Manitoba.

During his first term at UCalgary, Dr. Hart’s accomplishments include:

  • Establishing, leading and supporting an excellent team within the Office of Indigenous Engagement working to increase the intercultural capacity of the campus community through innovative programming.
  • Overseeing a complex and effective structure, dedicated to moving the 27 recommendations of the Indigenous Strategy forward, which includes seven sub-committees and numerous task force working circles.
  • Keeping the spirit of ii’ taa’poh’to’p alive and present within the university community, strategic plans, governing bodies and infrastructures by ensuring our commitment and integrity to undertake a parallel path toward truth and reconciliation. This means the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge keepers in our journey forward and maintaining an ethical space for meaningful engagement between Elders and senior leadership. 
  • Representing UCalgary at a regional, national and international level as a researcher and leader in the Indigenization and decolonization of post-secondary education, while sharing the journey of ii’ taa’poh’to’p and the importance of meaningful and respectful inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and knowledge systems in the academy.
  • Co-leading a comprehensive multi-million-dollar institutional research grant proposal to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund titled One Child Every Child: A Transformational Child Health Research Initiative.

His approach is about connecting with and learning from Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers to explore how these philosophies can guide us, transcend boundaries and take incremental steps to change the conversation between various cultures.

Dr. Hart has proven to be a strong and visible role model, in particular for our Indigenous scholars and students. His focus remains on championing UCalgary’s valued Indigenous Strategy ii’ taa’poh’to’p, and advocating for change across our campus and in the broader community. 

I would like to thank the members of the advisory review committee, which I chaired, for their participation in this process. They are: William Ghali (vice-president (research), Shawna Cunningham (academic staff representative), David Stewart (TUCFA representative), Bill Rosehart (decanal representative), Verity Turpin (provost team representative), Carol Gelette (MaPS representative), Gerald Ratt (AUPE representative), Adrian Alcantara (SU representative), Rahul Agawal (GSA representative), Pamela Roach (GFC representative), Yvonne Poitras Pratt (GFC representative), Reg Crowshoe (Elder representative), Doreen Bergum (Elder representative), Santanna Hernandez (ii' taa'poh'to'p Student Advisory Circle representative), Ashley Cornect-Benoit (ii' taa'poh'to'p Student Advisory Circle representative), Tim Fox (community representative), and Jeff Horvath (community representative).

Dr. Hart is taking a one-year sabbatical beginning July 1. Dr. Shawna Cunningham, director, Indigenous Strategy, will assume the role of acting vice-provost (Indigenous engagement) during this time. Dr. Cunningham holds an EdD from UCalgary as well as a master’s degree from the University of Alberta and a BA from the University of Lethbridge. Dr. Cunningham, who is Métis-Cree from southern Alberta, joined UCalgary in 2000 as the director of Writing Symbols Lodge (formerly The Native Centre), co-chaired the development of UCalgary’s Indigenous Strategy and has been the director of ii’ taa’poh’to’p since its launch in 2017, leading implementation. Her priorities over the next year will be to:

  • Co-lead the development of programming, micro-credentials, and tracking mechanisms of non-credit intercultural capacity building for the campus community
  • Support faculties and create avenues and opportunities for Indigenous engagement in the Indigenization of academic programs, community partnerships, and curriculum reviews
  • Continue to lead the implementation structure and reporting for the Indigenous strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, and the 27 recommendations
  • Support and co-lead meaningful engagement of Traditional Knowledge Keepers and senior leadership through the Circle of Advisors to ensure an ethical shared space of engagement remains an important part of the UCalgary parallel path towards reconciliation

Please join me in congratulating Michael as he continues his work at UCalgary.

Penny Werthner 
Interim Provost and Vice-President (academic)

ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.