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About the AEC

The Aboriginal Education Council at TMU was launched on October 6, 2010 at a community celebration. At the event, the university presented a statement acknowledging the connection between Egerton Ryerson and Indian Residential Schools.

The Aboriginal Education Council serves as an advisory council, with input into, and impact on, Aboriginal programming and education at TMU. While grounded in existing structures, the Council represents a departure from standard models at TMU, so that it can include Aboriginal worldviews and values in its operations. The university recognizes the unique status and concerns of Aboriginal peoples and acknowledges that a unique response is necessary if Aboriginal peoples’ post-secondary education, training and employment outcomes are to be improved.

Learn more about the university's Strategic Plan.

Membership of the Aboriginal Education Council

The Aboriginal Education Council membership is primarily comprised of Aboriginal students, faculty and staff representatives from Toronto Metropolitan University from departments across campus, which include: TMU Aboriginal Student Services (RASS) and the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives as part of the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion; the School of Social Work and Human Resources.

The Council also includes members and partners from key areas on campus including the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Student Affairs (SA), Admissions and Recruitment. There are also external partners in Toronto's Aboriginal community from the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI), the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Toronto York Region Metis Council (TYRMC) and other community organizations.

This year, 2020/2021; we welcome new members Natasha Gleeson, James Fauville and Karyn Pugliese.

Natasha Gleeson is Inuk, with Inuit ancestry from Nunatsiavut (Labrador). Natasha was born in Sydney, Cape Breton, and has lived in Edmonton while growing up, then returning to Nova Scotia to begin her post secondary education at Dalhousie University. Natasha currently resides in Toronto where she has had over 25 years of experience in the social work field. Today, Natasha is a Student Success Teacher at the Urban Indigenous Education Centre, where she has provided not only classroom instruction, but also, student success initiatives, and curriculum ans resource development. Natasha is also a mother of three; Micheal, Stella, and Isaac.

James Fauville is an advance standing third-year student working towards his Bachelor’s degree in the Social Worker program at Toronto Metropolitan University. He has also graduated with Honours from Centennial College, Social Service Worker Diploma, and obtained an Indigenous Studies Certificate. James has acquired excellent knowledge and skills that integrate the principles, philosophies, and theories of Social Service Work, specifically from an Anti-Oppressive and Social Justice framework. Furthermore, he has a proven history of professional competencies while understanding group dynamics, inter-professional practices, interpersonal communication, counselling, community development, advocacy, social movements and social policies.
James is also an active member of the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation and a registered Social Service Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Karyn (Pabàmàdiz) Pugliese  is a citizen of the Pikwàkanagàn First Nation in Ontario, and is of mixed Algonquin and Italian descent. When she is not engaged in acts of journalism, you'll find her paddling a canoe, shooting photos and eating frybread. She is an assistant professor of journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Karyn is best known for her work as a Parliament Hill reporter and as the Executive Director of News and Current Affairs at APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), where she ran the news department for seven years. She joined TMU's faculty in the Spring of 2020 while completing a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.

Karyn has worked in both daily news and on long-form investigations at a variety of outlets including ichannel, VisionTV, CBC and CTV. Karyn is also past president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, and she is currently a board member of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. She is a Journalists for Human Rights Ambassador and worked as an expert trainer for the program in South Sudan in 2018.

Her journalism has been recognized by the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Screen Awards, the Native American Journalists Association and the Public Policy Forum. She holds degrees in Journalism and History.


  • Joanne (Okimawininew) Dallaire | Elder (Ke Shay Hayo) and Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation 

Active members

  • Dr. Jennifer Simpson (Provost and Vice-President, Academic) 
  • Monica McKay | Director, Aboriginal Initiatives
  • Tracey King Miigis Qwe (Little Shell Woman) | Indigenous Human Resources Lead 
  • Allison Urowitz | Executive Director, Advancement
  • Suzanne Brant | Vice-President, Enrolment Management and Student Services, First Nations Technical Institute  
  • Amber Sandy, Coordinator, Indigenous Knowledge and Science Outreach
  • Amy Desjarlais, Interim Co-Lead - KAIROS Blanket Exercise Facilitation
  • Anthony Warren, Undergrad, SChool of Social Work
  • Christa Hinds,  PhD, CHRL, Manager, Human Resources Strategic Partnerships, HR Strategic Partnerships & Labour Relations
  • Chasity Hewwitt, Undergrad, Child and Youth Care Program
  • Dr. Cyndy Baskin, Professor, Associate Director Undergrad, School of Social Work
  • Curtis Maloley, Educational Developer, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching 
  • Darrell Bowden, Executive Director, Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion.
  • Heather Green, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
  • Jeffrey McNeil-SeymourAssistant Professor, School of Social Work
  • Jeremie Caribou, 2nd year Public Administration and Governance Program, Library Indigenous Initiatives Liaison Lead
  • Josephine Slaughter, Creative Industries, FCAD
  • Dr. Pamela Palmater, Professor, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Department of Politics & Public Administration
  • Riley Kucheran, Assistant Professor of Design Leadership, School of Fashion, Associate Director, Saagajiwe Centre for Indigenous Communication & Design, FCAD, PhD Student in Communication & Culture, Indigenous Advisor, Yeates School of Graduate Studies
  • Sarah Dennis-Kooji, Undergrad, School of Social Work, Liaison - Indigenous Student Association
  • Sarena Johnson, Storyteller, Content & Communications, Special Projects, Student Affairs
  • Shane Young, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work and Interim Academic Coordinator, Certificate in Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences
  • Marilyn Hew, Secretary/Treasurer, Toronto and York Region Metis Council (TYRMC)
  • Natasha Gleeson, Student Success Teacher at the Urban Indigenous Education Centre, TDSB
  • Charmaine Hack, University Registrar (Ad Hoc)
  • Valarie John, Cultural Community Outreach Liaison Officer, Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC) (Ad Hoc)
  • Julia Candlish, Director of Education, Chiefs of Ontario (COO) (Ad Hoc)
Image from page 259 of "Canada: an encyclopædia of the country; the Canadian dominion considered in its historic relations, its natural resources, its material progress and its national development, by a corps of eminent writers and specialists" (1898)

Toronto Metropolitan University is named for Egerton Ryerson (1803-1882), a prominent figure in 19th-century Canada who played an influential role in the fields of politics, religion, arts, sciences and perhaps most significantly, education. Egerton Ryerson was instrumental in the establishment of a free and compulsory public education system in Ontario. This was the foundation of the province’s modern school system and served to revolutionize education in Canada.

Because of Egerton Ryerson’s achievements, particularly in establishing the public education system we know today, the institution that would eventually become Toronto Metropolitan University was named for him at its founding in 1948.

Toronto Metropolitan University is proud of its history and of the contribution its namesake, Egerton Ryerson, made to Ontario’s public education system. However, while Egerton Ryerson supported free and compulsory education, he also believed in different systems of education for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. These beliefs influenced, in part, the establishment of what became the Indian Residential School system that has had such a devastating impact on First Nations, Métis and Inuit people across Canada. While Egerton Ryerson  did not implement or oversee Indian Residential Schools, his ideas were used by others to create their blueprint. It is important to acknowledge this connection and in so doing emphasize the university’s ongoing and proactive commitment to respectful relationships with Aboriginal communities, both within and outside Toronto Metropolitan University, and to continuing to build and maintain a campus environment that welcomes and respects Aboriginal people.

google docRead the full report on Egerton Ryerson and Indian Residential Schools prepared by AEC members., external link

Egerton Ryerson Plaque Unveiling

The plaque was first unveiled in January 2018. The Aboriginal Education Council, the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion, and the TMU community, including students,  were involved in the formal installation at a public event on June 25, held on Gould Street beneath the statue.

The plaque reads:

"This plaque serves as a reminder of Toronto Metropolitan University's commitment to moving forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Egerton Ryerson is widely known for his contributions to Ontario's public educational system. As Chief Superintendent of Education, TMU's recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that children in the schools were subjected to unthinkable abuse and neglect, to medical experimentation, punishment for the practice of cultures or languages and death. The aim of the Residential School System was cultural genocide."

Read the full story of the plaque unveiling.

2018       Alanis Obomsawin | Filmmaker, artist and activist

2017       Cindy Blackstock | Activist an Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society      

2013      Honorable Justice Murray Sinclair | Canadian Senator, First Nations Lawyer and Chairman of the Indian      Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission


2012      Shawn Atleo | Former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations (2009 to 2014)

2011      Joanne (Okimawininew) Dallaire | Elder (Ke Shay Ho) and Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Chair - Aboriginal Education Council, Traditional Healer and pipe carrier

              Phil Fontaine | Former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations (1997 to 2000)

2005     Honorable James K. Bartleman | Lieutenant Governor of Ontario


Visit the Toronto Metropolitan University Honorary Doctorates page, opens in new window for a full list of the notable Canadians who have received an Honrary Doctorate from Toronto Metropolitan University.