U of R takes big step towards Reconciliation with its selection of chair for the Board of Governors
- NC Raine | September 28, 2023
After serving as Chief of Cowessess First Nation for more than a decade Cadmus Delorme has stepped into a new role.
In July, he was the first Indigenous person to be named Chair for the University of Regina Board of Governors and possibly the first Indigenous person to hold such a title in Canada.
“I’m very proud of this role, being the first in this position, and playing a different role to help nudge Reconciliation into a stronger tomorrow,” said Delorme. “I enjoy these kinds of roles in strategic direction, in influencing the long-term direction.”
As U of R BOG chair, his duties include making strategic decisions, approving budgets, audits, hiring as well as working with the president of the university.
“The reason I wanted to be chair is because education got us into this moment in the country, and education is going to get us out,” said Delorme. “Education is going to make us a stronger society in our understanding of our two relationships in Treaty with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”
“As Chair, I can work more directly with the President, and with the board I’ll help set the tone and direction of one of the educational institutions in this country.”
Jeff Keshen, U of R president and vice-chancellor, said Delorme serving as board chair is a testament to the university beginning to ‘walk the walk’ in Reconciliation.
“[Delorme] is is a tangible demonstration that the University of Regina is committed to Truth and Reconciliation,” said Keshem. “[Delorme] will challenge us, he will guide us, he will be a role model.”
Currently,13 per cent of the U of R student body identify as Indigenous, Keshen said adding, it’s important to have a role model to prove what is possible to achieve.
“I always thought it was so important when Obama became President [of the United States] – it’s not just that he was incredibly talented and wise, but I think he was a symbol of the hope of people,” said Keshen.
“[Delorme] brings the experience of leadership. As Chief, he dealt with a number of difficult issues,” he said. “He had to be an inspiration to people. And I think he’s going to inspire the youth here.”
Delorme said there is about 15,000 U of R students, which makes it a good size to adapt to change. He said institutions across Canada need change in regards to the educational model.
“We must understand that culture is not funded in this country,” he said. “But culture is a huge part of our future. For Indigenous people, culture is language, culture is identity. In Canada, there’s a lot of different cultures. So universities have to be a safe place to showcase and enhance and grow cultures.”
Delorme believes that once people have foundation in their identity, they will have the ”means to produce better economics, better sound decisions.”
According to a 2023 report, Indigenous high school graduation rates are declining, with less than 50 percent of Indigenous students graduating grade 12 within three years of beginning grade 10.
Delorme said its imperative that institutions have resources and capacities to ensure students succeed. He points to the OMA Program at the University of Regina which provides supports for Indigenous students throughout their first year.
“When I got to the university, it was culture shock,” said Delorme. “I failed over and over. I eventually realized my kokum and mushum, my mom and dad weren’t there when supper wasn’t close to me. I’m a prime example of this. I know how intimidating it can be.”
As a former student and board chair he has some words of advice for all students.
“Understand it’s an investment into you and your family,” said Delorme. “Find your core groups and make sure they’re aligned and dedicated to education. You’re going to make your ancestors so proud. Education is the most important tool to get us out of this moment.”