This article discusses the atrocities committed in Residential Schools and may be triggering for some readers. Those seeking support may contact the Office of Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation or Four Directions. For immediate assistance, the National Indian Residential School Crisis Hotline can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
From art displays to rugby games, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was observed across Queen’s campus last week.
Beginning on Sept. 25, events honoring National Day for Truth and Reconciliation continued campus wide throughout the week. Queen’s suspended all academic activities on Oct. 2 to encourage the observance of the day. Though academic activities were suspended, reflection on the impacts of colonization in education wasn’t.
The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is Canada’s newest statutory holiday, implemented in 2021. Sept. 30 is dedicated annually to honour the survivors of residential schools and the ongoing impacts of colonization on Indigenous communities.
The week began with Indigenous art displayed at Stauffer Library, setting the tone for many other events centered around Indigenous art, which included film screenings of Beans and Indian Horse.
The Tricolour Outlet sold orange t-shirts designed by local Cree artist, Jaylene Cardinal. The shirts were available in multiple pop-up stores across campus. A portion of all sale proceeds went to the Indigenous-led education organization, the Orange Shirt Society.
Sarah Funnell (Minwanimad), associate dean (Indigenous health) and chair of Indigenous health in the Faculty of Health Sciences, hosted a conversation titled Climbing the Mountain towards Reconciliation on Sept. 29. Later that day, Liv Rondeau, who is currently pursuing her PhD at Queen’s in cultural studies and teaches part-time with the Indigenous Teacher Education Program in the Faculty of Education, gave a keynote address titled “Building Relationships with the Natural World and Indigenous Worldviews in STEAM.”
On the same day, the Queen’s announced the advertisement of seven new positions for Indigenous scholars at the university, who will be selected through the Queen’s National Scholars program. The positions include a Chair in Indigenous Studies for the new Indigenous Studies program, under the Faculty of Arts & Science.
“These positions are critical for advancing Indigenization and decolonization,” said Matthew Evans, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), in a press release.
Truth and Reconciliation events also involved Queen’s sports.
On Saturday, the Men’s Rugby team wore a jersey designed by artist Tsiokeriio (Diio) Hagen, from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, to their game against Guelph on Tindall field.
“The truth and reconciliation education accompanying these jerseys instills a sense of responsibility and awareness in players, encouraging them to be active advocates for open dialogue and pursuit of equality,” Queen’s Men’s Rugby said in an Instagram post.
The observance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation concluded with a Sacred Fire on Agnes Benidickson Field on Oct. 2. The fire, led by the Office of Indigenous Initiative, was open to all students.. There was a separate Sacred Fire for Indigenous students to come together at Four Directions.
In 2015, Queen’s established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (TRCTF) following the final TRC report on residential schools in Canada. The task force released 25 recommendations for the Queen’s community to engage in the process of reconciliation on campus.
In the section Teyonkwayenawà:kon Maamdoonaan (Including), the task force recommended the University provide students with the opportunity to engage with Indigenous ceremonies and teachings.
“Queen’s has a long way to go—as all universities do—and it is important to acknowledge change will not come overnight. There will be setbacks along the way, too. I believe the University is already taking positive steps in the right direction,” the TRCTF final report said.
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