Executive Director, Indigenous Engagement (Oshkabewis)

OCAD University, Toronto, ON  

Closing Date -Oct. 23, 2022 Location -Toronto, ON Work Type -
Salary Range - Experience Level  - Job ID  
Job Description

In consideration, and in the development, of this new role for the community of OCAD University (OCAD U), we looked towards and found guidance with local Indigenous Knowledge Leaders on whose territories OCAD U now stands - Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississaugas of the Credit, Métis, Inuit, Urban Indigenous. The Anishinaabe word, Oshkabewis, is an acknowledgement of the role of Oshkabewis, and its importance to the development of new knowledges for the community. The prioritizing of this role also includes an acknowledgement of where OCAD U needs to move as a Canadian institution. In the development of this new role of Executive Director, Indigenous Engagement (Oshkabewis), we have also learned that the role of the Oshkabewis happens in many Indigenous Nations across this country now known as Canada. Once we have hired for this new position, OCAD U will continue this work of prioritizing and privileging Indigenous Knowledge ways.


Position Summary:

Reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor, the Executive Director, Indigenous Engagement (Oshkabewis) is primarily responsible for maintaining and growing relationships between the University and various Indigenous communities through reconciliation and mutual respect. Working collaboratively with the University and external partners, this administrative role supports Indigenous success within the institution while contributing to the decolonization of OCAD University practices, policies and structures through advocacy and community-building. This role acknowledges the important Indigenous artistic histories that inform, and contribute towards, recentering Indigenous Knowledge(s) within academic discourse. 


As part of the senior administration, the Executive Director serves to meaningfully connect Indigenous students, faculty, and staff with Indigenous Knowledge Leaders, as well as the Indigenous Education Council and the Indigenous Student Centre. The advocacy for Indigenous faculty, staff and students, including prospective students and their families, will recognize that intergenerational well-being is central to Indigenous communities and essential for decision-making processes, and will honour opportunities to enable the exchange of knowledge between these groups.


OCAD University is committed to restoring just and equitable relationships on an interpersonal, institutional and societal level by prioritizing Indigenous rights and knowledge systems, recognizing treaty obligations, and respecting Indigenous sovereignty. The Executive Director recognizes that the families of students and prospective students are entrusting the University community to provide a welcoming, respectful and safe environment for them. With this role, OCAD U is prioritizing the Anishinaabe term Oshkabewis. This acknowledges the important role of ‘Helper’ as determined by many Indigenous Nations across Turtle Island. The Oshkabewis is a recognized role that supports the production of Indigenous Knowledge and experience, as well as actively contributing to shaping future Indigenous Knowledge and experience within institutional systems. This position recognizes and prioritizes that important work to support the development of Indigenous artistic knowledge and skill within the art and design university context.


Summary of Responsibilities:

  • Familiarize yourself with the current and ongoing state of Indigenous peoples and practices within OCAD University and support Indigenous success by providing an annual plan of action to the President.
  • Galvanize existing efforts of decolonization of OCAD U, attending to the recommendations and visions of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit (MMIW2S) movement, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
  • Work with internal and external communities, to challenge and replace existing colonial practices, policies and structures within and across the University to create positive change for Indigenous students, staff, faculty and their families.
  • Collaborate with the Admissions office to appropriately support the needs of potential Indigenous students and their families.
  • In collaboration with the Special Advisor to the Provost, Indigenous Initiatives, support the implementation and refresh of the recommendations of the Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Learning.
  • In collaboration with the Special Advisor to the Provost, Indigenous Initiatives, lead the bridging of OCAD U communities, including the Indigenous Education Council, the Indigenous Student Centre, the Indigenous Knowledge Leaders’ Advisory Council, and the Indigenous Visual Culture program.
  • Serve as OCAD University’s key representative in building relationships with the local Indigenous Nations surrounding OCAD U, develop community-to-community conversations and outreach in Toronto and the surrounding areas, including acting as the main connection with the Indigenous Knowledge Leaders Advisory Council, building reciprocity into relationships.
  • Build and strengthen reconciliation on behalf of the University with Indigenous Nations including the Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations of the Grand River, Mississaugas of the Credit, Métis Nation, Inuit, and Urban Indigenous communities.
  • Seek out and share culturally appropriate and relevant resources, materials and opportunities for learning, community engagement and relationship-building.
  • Support ceremonial practice for students, staff and faculty, by building connections and collaboration, and supporting wellness and healing both within and outside of OCAD U.
  • Initiate and support fundraising efforts in collaboration with the University administration such as Advancement and Government Relations, which may include the development of Indigenous physical spaces at the University.
  • Provide senior-level advice and guidance regarding the recruitment and retention of Indigenous staff and faculty to OCAD University Managers, as well as the Office of Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Initiatives (ODESI), and the People & Culture Office.
  • Advocate for the wholistic support and advocacy for Indigenous students, faculty, staff and their respective communities by acting as a key figure to provide Indigenous members of OCAD U ombuds services.
  • Support the University’s restorative justice process as outlined in relevant policies.
  • Attend and participate in relevant OCAD U community events.
  • Make space for Indigenous faculty and staff to gather, celebrate, and support each other.
  • Make space for the voices of Indigenous students and their families to be heard at OCAD U.



  • Successful completion of a graduate degree with a specialization in Indigenous Art, Indigenous Art History, Indigenous Studies or similar area. Equivalent advocacy or community experience will be considered as a suitable alternative.
  • Lived experience and understanding of the cultural beliefs and practices of at least one local Indigenous community.
  • Experience working with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous community to support and develop, and implement programs that support and nurture Indigenous knowledge/spaces within institutions
  • Knowledge of Indigenous art practices and history.
  • Knowledge of other Indigenous cultural protocols and practices, including Indigenous mentorship models.
  • Knowledge of ceremony within Indigenous community contexts to maintain accountability, relevance, responsibility to community, fulfillment, self-care, balance and overall wellness and recognition of their contributions to the Indigenous community.
  • Knowledge of decolonial processes and practices, preferably within an educational institution.
  • Ability to work across organizational structures to influence positive change.
  • Ability to work in institutional environments, using senior-level vision in preparing action plans, financial literacy and working with organizational policies.
  • Ability to respond to sensitive and complex situations with discretion and care.
  • Demonstrated ability to connect with and bridge communities.
  • A demonstrated commitment to the principles of equity and diversity, preferably including experience promoting a respectful work and learning environment for students, staff and faculty.


The position title, level and reporting relationship for this role may be subject to change.


Compensation: Salary commensurate with experience, plus benefits.

Hours of Work: Total of 35 hours per week. The incumbent in this role may be  expected to report to work on campus, but there may be opportunities for a hybrid work arrangement.

Please review the 
OCAD University’s Safety Measures for all up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 protocols.

OCAD University’s vaccine mandate will be in abeyance until further notice. However, to ensure continuity of teaching, learning and campus activities throughout the year, the University expects all students, staff and faculty to maintain up-to-date vaccination records.

How to Apply

Application Deadline: Interested applicants are invited to submit an updated resume, with a cover letter by selecting "Apply Now" below. The review of applications will begin on Monday September 12, 2022 and will continue until the position is filled.

As an institution committed to art, design, digital media and related scholarship, OCAD University recognizes the profound and essential value that diversity brings to the creation, reception and circulation of creative practices and discourse. OCAD University understands that valuing diverse creative practices and forms of knowledge are essential to and enrich the institution’s core mission and vision as an art and design university with a local and global scope.

We encourage members of designated equity-seeking groups to self-identify within the voluntary Applicant Questionnaire

In order to alleviate the under-representation of Indigenous administrators, this opportunity is open only to qualified individuals who self-identify as Indigenous persons in the application process. This initiative is a special program under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

OCAD University is committed to providing an inclusive and barrier free experience to applicants with accessibility needs. Requests for accommodation can be made at any stage during the recruitment process. Please contact Human Resources for more information or refer to OCAD U’s Policy of Accommodation in Employment for Persons with Disabilities

All qualified persons are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority. While we thank all candidates for their interest, only those short-listed will be contacted.