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Wilfrid Laurier University has made significant strides in its sustainability standing and is now recognized as an institutional leader in sustainability. Established in 2010 because of an active and concerned group of students, the Laurier Sustainability Office is now an organized group that provides measurable value – financial and process savings, compliance to legislation and other mandates, and significant institutional recognition. Embedding sustainability in the short-, medium- and long-term goals of the university has equipped the institution to respond to existing issues and emerging trends and opportunities.

The Sustainability Office has baselined and benchmarked campus sustainability indicators to understand progress to date and inform the creation of action-oriented responses outlined in this Plan. Two major assessments were completed using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) self-reporting Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) framework. Laurier achieved a Bronze rating in 2010, advanced to a Silver rating in late 2013 and achieved a gold rating in 2019. The Sustainability Office is currently undertaking the fourth STARS assessment our Laurier’s campuses, which will be completed in the fall of 2023. Additionally, the Sustainability Office participated in a lengthy stakeholder engagement process to gather key information from the Laurier community regarding this Plan.

Based on the feedback received, the Sustainability Office developed a strong understanding of the state of sustainability on campus and in the post-secondary education sector, in addition to the sustainability goals of the Laurier community. Building on this, the Sustainability Office created a plan that represents Laurier’s own unique vision while embracing its strengths and confronting its weaknesses. The feedback received from the Laurier community made it clear that the overall goal of this plan must be to improve well-being by strengthening sustainability in everyday educational, operational and community processes. Achieving this goal will be accomplished through key strategic direction, as well as a comprehensive plan for sustainability on campus and beyond for the next five years.

Definitions and Evolution

Sustainability and Well-Being

The stakeholder consultation process demonstrated that the Laurier community values well-being as an essential aspect of sustainability and focus in our planning and operations.

  • 95% believe in a more sustainable campus and community add to personal health and well-being.
  • 100% believe it is important to live in a sustainable way.

Land Acknowledgement

The overarching goal of this Sustainability Action Plan is to provide a shared vision and pathway for Laurier to improve its relationship with the land and people with whom we share it. As such, it is important to further our understanding of the long-standing history that has brought Laurier to reside on the land, and to seek to understand our place within that history.

We would like to acknowledge that Wilfrid Laurier University and its campuses are located on the Haldimand tract, traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe (Anish-nah-bay) and Haudenosaunee (Hoe-den-no-show-nee) peoples. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty between the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe peoples and symbolizes the agreement to share, protect our resources and not to engage in conflict. From the Haldimand Treaty of Oct. 25, 1784 this territory is described as: “six miles deep from each side of the river (Grand River) beginning at Lake Erie and extending in the proportion to the Head of said river, which them and their posterity are to enjoy forever.” The treaty was signed by the British with their allies, the Six Nations, after the American Revolution. Despite being the largest reserve demographically in Canada, those nations now reside on less than five per cent of this original territory after losing much of the territory to settlement of newcomers.

Today, this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis and Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island. Acknowledging them reminds us of our important connection to this land where we live, learn and work. We recognize, honour and respect these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and water on which Laurier is now present.