Sept. 13, 2021Print | PDF
Dear Laurier community,
The Government of Canada has recently designated September 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors, their families and communities, and to ensure the public commemoration of their history and the legacy of residential schools.
On this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it is essential for all citizens to reflect on this country’s colonial past and the continual legacy of colonial trauma. The summer of 2021 caused Canada to pause as we once again became aware of the realities of Indigenous lives lost with deliberate and intentional policies of harm. For non-Indigenous people, it brought awareness and exposure to harsh truths that many have not heard or wished to not learn, and further some deny. For Indigenous families, it was a reminder of the real harms and colonial violence that not only began in the early days of Canada, but continue with public sector systems, legislation, social policies, and actions of the Canadian State. These are the reasons that the 94 Calls to Action are presented – to call out the systemic issues as a path forward in Canada.
This summer was the beginning and realization of the journey required to restore peace between Indigenous and non-Indigenous society on the lands we now call Canada. This truth telling must continue, even though it is unsettling, upsetting, and causes us to examine Canada in a way we may not have done in the past. This is not to cause harm, to blame, or to elicit guilt, although these feelings may arise as a result. Truth telling is to help construct understanding and empathy of the trauma continued to be experienced by Indigenous Peoples. Truth telling is an essential element to occur before we can move on to a journey of restoring peace and reconciliation with one another.
Given the emotions experienced by the revelations and discoveries of mass and unmarked graves at Indian Residential Schools across Canada, on this inaugural September 30, the Indigenous Initiatives team wishes to offer a safe place at the Indigenous Student Centres in Waterloo and Brantford for Indigenous students only, to gather in support of one another. We ask that the Laurier community respect and honour this Indigenous-only space on this day. We also request that flexibility be provided to Indigenous students who forgo classes on September 30 and instead spend time focusing on their own well-being.
In recognition of this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the university will be offering the opportunity for learning and reflection through a virtual session open to all students, staff, and faculty. More details will be forthcoming.
In addition to our virtual events, we have two ways in which the Laurier community may to wish support the Woodland Cultural Centre (site of the former Mohawk Institute): the Office of Indigenous Initiatives will be selling “Save the Evidence” campaign shirts, and the Laurier bookstores on both campuses will be selling orange shirts in honour of September 30th also being Orange Shirt Day. With both sales opportunities, the proceeds from each will be donated directly to the “Save the Evidence Campaign.”
As this new federal holiday is meant to be a day of reflection on the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to consider the ways in which reconciliation may be realized, we encourage the Laurier community to engage with the following list of resources to hold their own space for reflection.
The residential school’s crisis line is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of a residential school experience. Support is available at 1-866-925-4419.
In peace and friendship,
Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Initiatives
President and Vice-Chancellor
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