(Courtesy Kahente Horn-Miller)
On Tuesday, Carleton University announced that Kanien’keha’ka associate professor Kahente Horn-Miller was named the inaugural assistant vice-president of Indigenous Initiatives.
Horn-Miller posted the news on Facebook, and then the messages started to flood in.
“It’s really nice to be supported,” said Horn-Miller. “It’s been a grind. To know that people recognized that and to see that really warms me. It’s only been very positive,” she said.
Horn-Miller started teaching at Carleton in 2014 in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies.
“When I arrived, it was before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) had been completed, and people were just beginning to think about what could be done further from what has already been done here at Carlteon,” she said.
In her new role, she will be tasked with overseeing strategic Indigenous initiatives and build partnerships on research and funding to work towards advancing reconciliation with Indigenous communities, according to the university.
But in truth, Horn-Miller has been doing this work from the start.
“I began to see from the inside that there was a lot of work to be done, and I began to engage in difficult conversations. I come from a people who are very diplomatic. I have learned in the Longhouse about engaging in a way that it is about peace and consensus-building. And all these tools that I took from our traditions, I brought into the institution,” she said.
Professor Horn-Miller completed her Ph.D. at Concordia University in the humanities doctoral program.
“I think it served me well because it seems like I am well respected, and I think that keeping the philosophy of the Seven Generations in my mind and living by it in terms of always thinking ‘what is good for the future? What is good for the coming faces?’
And it is not only Indigenous faces, she pointed out, but non-Indigenous children as well. “It’s always thinking ahead, and that makes it really accountable,” said Horn-Miller.
“Using and engaging with Haudenosaunee philosophy in an institution like this really carried me along and ensured that things that I would get involved in were always with that in mind. This isn’t for me. This is for the future faces.”
In 2018, Horn-Miller put together a project to create bundles of content that could be used across disciplines with a goal of bringing more Indigenous content into classrooms.
The Collaborative Indigenous Learning Bundles has since expanded to professional development for faculty and staff.
“I was asked to be the co-chair on the Carleton University Strategic Indigenous Initiatives committee, and that was to really, in a concerted way, examine and ask questions. What does Carleton need to do to make things better?” said Horn-Miller.
She explained that many consultations subsequently took place, which later produced a Kinàmàgawin report and 41 calls to action, which she said shows that they listened.
“We talked and interviewed over 600 people and did over 40 consultations. Now we have to implement it, and the commitment is there. I had really good support from the university’s president and provost. We have to act on it,” she said.
One of those calls was to create a role such as the one she is now in, and she said, “my job is to help move things forward and engage.”
She called her experience at the university a learning process and said that she put a lot of effort and energy into making sure that everything she identified was addressed.
“We are working towards developing the Carleton University Centre for Indigenous Research Culture, Language and Ethics. It is an Indigenous research centre. We are planning it out and are in the beginning stage. We have to start looking for funding and consult with Indigenous faculty,” said Horn-Miller.
“We have also begun to work out, through the channels of engagement, a graduate certificate in ethical research towards Indigenous people,” she said.
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