Indigenous admin resigns citing lack of support

Barry Lavallee is the second Indigenous administrator to resign in two months

Mere months after the resignation of the U of M’s vice-provost of Indigenous engagement — who cited a lack of response on Indigenous issues by the school’s administration — another Indigenous member of the U of M has announced their departure.

Barry Lavallee, who taught at the university and was director of education for Ongomiizwin — the Indigenous institute of health and healing — told local media he left because “solid support by the academy itself to address Indigenous-specific racism in context” was “not achieved.”

U of M spokesperson John Danakas issued a statement saying the university is “committed to reconciliation and Indigenous priorities, as is laid out in its strategic plan.”

“The University of Manitoba deeply appreciates Dr. Barry Lavallee’s efforts in support of Indigenous students and Indigenous health, including the development of the longitudinal Indigenous health curriculum in the Max Rady College of Medicine; his important contributions in improving Indigenous health and cultural safety awareness among all medical students; and his leadership on the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences’ [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] reconciliation action plan as well as the task force and dialogue session on addressing racism in the learning environment held in 2018,” the statement reads.

During an Indigenous Scholars Speaker Series lecture held on campus in September, Lavallee suggested the U of M approach issues of racism by removing U of M president David Barnard and replacing him with an Indigenous woman.

In December, the U of M’s first vice-provost of Indigenous engagement, Lynn Lavallée, resigned after just over a year in the position, saying her “vision for this role was not in alignment with administration.”