USask retirees announce new “Let’s Fly Up Together” Indigenous Reconciliation Award

The University of Saskatchewan Retirees Association (USRA) has created a new award—the Ohpahotân/oohpaahotaan – “Let’s Fly Up Together” Award—to celebrate the efforts of retirees who have advanced the university’s Indigenous Strategy gifted to the university as a companion to University Plan 2025.

The award will honour a USask individual retiree or a pair or group of individuals that includes one or more USask retirees whose efforts significantly advance one or more commitments of the Ohpahotân/oohpaahotaan—"Let’s Fly Up Together” Indigenous Strategy. The call for nominations will take place in early 2024. 

“This award was first proposed on National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2022 by USRA board members Caroline Cottrell, Mary Dykes, Beryl Radcliffe, and Rick Schwier to demonstrate USRA’s commitment to USask’s Indigenous Strategy and to help realize the goals of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action,” said USRA co-chair Jim Thornhill. 

“Our hope is that this USRA award—believed to be the first of its kind by a Canadian university retirees’ group—will help lead us as a community on the journey of right relations,” said USRA co-chair Merry Beazely.

Over the past year, consultations took place with Indigenous Elder Joseph Naytowhow and Dr. Angela Jaime, interim vice-provost Indigenous Engagement. An ad hoc advisory committee (Cottrell, Dykes, Thornhill, Bryan Harvey, and Kathryn Warden) was then struck to recommend to the USRA board on the creation of and criteria for the new award.

The committee took into account the USask Indigenous Strategy—the first such strategy solely created by Indigenous peoples for a Canadian U15 research institution—as well as other USask resources on Indigenizing academia.

USRA Awards Committee members, plus members of the Indigenous community who will be identified in consultation with Indigenous campus leaders, will advise the committee on selection of the recipient(s) from the nominations received. The first awardee(s) of the new award will be celebrated at a special USRA event next spring.

“Through the planning and award terms of reference, the USRA is taking meaningful steps towards the USask aspiration of ‘transformative decolonization leading to reconciliation’,” said USask Provost Dr. Airini. “Thank you to those who initiated the award concept and to the full team effort that followed, bringing so many members of the USask community together through this USRA initiative.”

Information on other USRA awards is available at: https://usra.usask.ca/awards.php#top

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