On September 30, Canada will celebrate its second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Today makes us think about the history of residential schools and the impact they continue to have on survivors, their families and their communities. In particular, it is an opportunity to learn and think about ways to promote reconciliation in our country and communities.
The university will hold a series of events from September 26 to 30. The week will conclude on Friday at 9 a.m. with a formal ceremony in University Square, followed by a community reception in FSS 4007. Walk the path of healing with us and together let’s build an inclusive community where everyone feels included and safe.
Last year, the Office of Aboriginal Affairs hosted an event on the Tabaret Hall lawn. The university community was encouraged to gather there to participate in the ceremony and performances and to hear a variety of views.
Participants can express the significance of the day by writing a message on the orange cardboard shirt. More than 700 of these forms were planted on the lawn of the Tabaret pavilion and remained there until the end of the day.
It all culminated in a conversation between former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine and Darren Sutherland, Indigenous Community and Engagement Specialist at the University of Ottawa, about residential schools and strength education. Jacques Frémont, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, gave an opening speech. Notably, Phil Fontaine was one of the first Aboriginal leaders to speak openly about his experiences at the residential school and encouraged other survivors to follow his example. The courageous act of residential school survivors led to an apology from the Government of Canada in 2008 and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose case covered the years 2009-2015.
It has been a great way to raise awareness about residential schools and promote reconciliation on campus. However, National Truth and Reconciliation Day reminded us of the emotional burden placed on local communities. That’s why we will increase our support this year. Individuals and groups on campus have volunteered to promote the Day through activities, workshops, resources and awareness campaigns, building on the work done last year.
We invite members of the university community to learn about and participate in program activities. Finally, although the events planned between now and September 30 are held as part of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we remind you that learning and awareness are a priority throughout the year.