Founding Director of UVic’s Indigenous Governance program says he “embodied toxic masculinity”
On Wednesday, March 6, Indigenous news publication Two Row Times broke the news that Taiaiake Alfred, now former professor of UVic’s Indigenous Governance program (IGOV), resigned from UVic. Alfred is the founding director of the graduate program that was launched in 1999.
In April, UVic announced they were suspending enrolment in the program until further notice, following a third-party investigation. The UVic website currently states that the program has suspended enrolment for the 2019/2020 academic year.
According to a story by CBC News about the investigation that was released at the time, some students were left “traumatized” by the program.
The Martlet also spoke to a former student of the program in April, who agreed with the university’s decision.
“It is a traumatic and unsafe environment for many so I’m glad another year of students won’t be exposed to that,” they said.
The third-party review found that the program was, among other things, “stressful, in part, because of difficult classroom dynamics caused by a sense of entitlements, competition, and unpredictability.”
In a post on his website titled “Statement on Leaving Academia,” released on his website on Thursday, March 7, Alfred acknowledged he had “old ways of thinking.”
“My former partner, friends, and mentors … have helped me understand the ways I embodied toxic masculinity and how I did wrong and harmed people because of it.”
“Even as an Indigenous man who has battled against racism and colonialism, I carry old and harmful ways of thinking,” he continued. “My former partner, friends, and mentors such as Lee Maracle and Graham Smith have helped me understand the ways I embodied toxic masculinity and how I did wrong and harmed people because of it.”
Alfred stated his commitment to learning and doing better in the future.
“I am committed to doing better and recommitted to making positive contributions to the decolonization movement and the resurgence of Indigenous nations,” he concluded.
“To everyone who has been impacted by my work as a scholar and a leader, I want you to know that I’m here, I’m listening and I am accountable.”
On Thursday afternoon, UVic confirmed Alfred’s resignation, stating that he “is no longer affiliated with the university.”
This story is developing and will be updated as more information is made available.