June 29, 2021

Hello colleagues . Bonjour.
tānsi. hau koda. ëdƚanet’e? hau kola. taanishi. hau kona. anin
[English. French. Cree. Dakota. Dene. Lakota. Michif. Nakota. Saulteaux]

I write to share the exceptional news that Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, misiwaykomiguk paypomwayotung (Saulteaux), has been appointed president of First Nations University of Canada (FNuniv). Dr. Ottmann has provided outstanding leadership, teaching, and purpose-driven work to the University of Saskatchewan as the inaugural vice-provost Indigenous engagement since 2017.  We wish her well in her new leadership role. While we are sad that Dr. Ottmann will depart USask, we celebrate her appointment to a role of regional, national, and international significance, one that recognizes her considerable experience and expertise in Indigenous higher education leadership and systemic transformational work.

In fall 2017, Dr. Ottmann became vice-provost Indigenous engagement at USask and was appointed as professor to the College of Education. She is recognized as an international researcher, advocate, and change-maker whose purpose is to transform systems and practices to be inclusive of Indigenous leadership, methodologies, and pedagogies. In her role as vice-provost Indigenous engagement, Dr. Ottmann has been motivated to advocate for changes in schools and communities that foster a deeper sense of belonging and appreciation for Indigenous peoples – their histories, stories, ways of knowing and being. Dr. Ottmann is the first Indigenous person elected as president of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education.

Dr. Ottmann has worked alongside Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within and outside of the university to achieve the academic mission of USask. There are so many achievements from Dr. Ottmann’s leadership, including:

  • Indigenous Strategy: Through Dr. Ottmann’s leadership, the first Indigenous Strategy for USask was informed and validated by Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community, and will be gifted to the university in the summer of 2021

  • Formal agreements: In addition to oversight of MOUs with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Métis Nation - Saskatchewan, Prince Albert Grand Council and the Canadian Roots Exchange, numerous agreements have been facilitated by Dr. Ottmann, including with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

  • External grants: Dr. Ottmann has been active in securing external grants, including a COVID-19 Emergency Response Grant from the Mastercard Foundation to support connectivity and remote learning for Indigenous students at USask, as well from the Suncor Energy Foundation to pilot the Building Intercultural Resilience Mentorship Program.

Dr. Ottmann has provided highly impactful leadership, including the initial development of an Indigenous faculty and staff hiring and retention action plan, Indigenization of the standards for promotion and tenure, decolonization and Indigenization of the institutional research data governance and management mechanisms, and advancing Indigenous research (e.g., Mawatsitwin 2021 – Land-Based Teachings), Anti-Racism Strategy support, and the māmowi āsohtētān Internal Truth and Reconciliation Forum. The forum was awarded the 2021 Prix D’Excellence Award Silver Medal for the Best Indigenous Relations Initiative by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education.

As vice-provost Indigenous engagement, Dr. Ottmann has provided truly inspirational, transformational, and visionary leadership for the Indigenous academic portfolio at the University of Saskatchewan. We are grateful for her vision and leadership. We look forward to continuing to work with FNuniv within the Saskatchewan post-secondary sector and as fellow members of Universities Canada.

Interim leadership arrangements will begin on Aug. 1 and will be forthcoming, along with planning towards hiring our next senior leader for the Indigenous academic portfolio at USask.