Brock’s Faculty of Education has appointed Sheila Cote-Meek as the new Director of Indigenous Educational Studies Programs.
Cote-Meek is a leader in Indigenous education and comes to Brock with an extensive background in advancing equity and inclusion in post-secondary institutions. She will begin her new role Aug. 1.
“Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek is an accomplished academic and leader who will advance Indigenous education at Brock,” says Robyn Bourgeois, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement. “She will contribute significantly to actualizing our institutional commitment to decolonization, Indigenization and reconciliation.”
Cote-Meek is currently the Vice-President Equity, People and Culture at York University, where she has spent the past three years building a new division dedicated to creating an inclusive and equitable environment for all members of the university community. She led a number of new initiatives, including York’s first Framework and Action Plan on Black Inclusion and the development of York’s first university-wide Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, which will be released later this semester. She also created a new portfolio at York: the Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Initiatives.
Prior to joining York University, Cote-Meek spent a decade serving as the Associate Vice-President, Academic and Indigenous Programs at Laurentian University, where she led a number of initiatives related to equity and decolonization. At Laurentian, Cote-Meek oversaw support services for Indigenous students, advanced Indigenous academic initiatives and led the development of the university’s Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre.
Cote-Meek, who is from northeastern Ontario and is a member of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, says she saw the impact of racism and oppression on her siblings growing up, particularly when it came to accessing education.
“I’ve always had a passion for issues around equity and trying to address inequities in a system,” she says. “I know that comes from my past, from my own upbringing and my own experiences, but also from the experiences that I saw happening to other people.”
Mary-Louise Vanderlee, Interim Dean of Brock’s Faculty of Education, says the Faculty is “delighted that Dr. Cote-Meek has decided to join us.”
“Students enrolled in our Indigenous programs will benefit from her wise leadership and experiences, as will all faculty and staff members associated with the various programs in the Department of Educational Studies and beyond,” she says. “We are honoured to be welcoming such an established leader and scholar to the Faculty of Education and subsequently to the Brock community.”
The Faculty’s Indigenous Educational Studies programs offer several options for those interested in working with Indigenous communities or in Indigenous teaching environments. Programs include both a Certificate and Bachelor of Education in Aboriginal Adult Education, a Minor in Indigenous Studies and a Bachelor of Education for those seeking to teach kindergarten to Grade 6.
In her new role, Cote-Meek hopes to make a meaningful contribution to strengthening these programs by working with Indigenous communities on campus and across Niagara.
“I don’t think you can undertake work in the area of Indigenous education without connecting to community,” she says. “It’s just an integral part of the work that we do.”
Cote-Meek also plans to further her research on the ways Indigenous scholars navigate the post-secondary system. Her doctoral research was largely focused on the experiences of Indigenous students in the post-secondary education system. She has since gone on to write two books on decolonizing education in Canada.
Outside of the Faculty of Education, Cote-Meek hopes to participate in reconciliation and decolonization work at Brock and to support Indigenous students and researchers.
“I hope that my impact at Brock will be around that particular area because that’s where my passion for change is. It’s been my work wherever I am,” she says.