President’s statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day

On June 21, Canada marks National Indigenous Peoples Day to honour the history and heritage, the culture and the contributions Indigenous peoples have made, and continue to make, across the country.

As we celebrate and commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day — and National Indigenous History Month in June — we are also reminded there is still much work that needs to be done to appreciate and acknowledge the past, as we strive for a better future. The painful legacy of the residential school system, marked by continued discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at sites across the country, is a reminder of the injustice endured by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people across the country for centuries.

As a national leader in post-secondary education, the University of Saskatchewan has a responsibility to inform and to teach about this dark chapter in the story of Canada, and to also shine a spotlight on the ongoing contributions of Indigenous peoples. This is a day dedicated to recognizing, respecting and reflecting on the rich and diverse history and perspectives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, as we commit to creating positive change with — and for — Indigenous communities across the country.

Guiding the university’s path to progress is the new Indigenous Strategy, the first in the country created solely by Indigenous faculty, staff, students, alumni, Traditional Knowledge Keepers and Language Teachers and other community members, and generously gifted to USask by Elders last summer. The strategy, complemented by the university’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Policy and the work underway to create the university’s EDI Strategy and Action Plan, marks USask’s journey on the road to reconciliation.

The university’s ongoing commitment to Indigenization is one of the foundations of our University Plan 2025 to be the university the world needs. The world needs more space for Indigenous scholarship, and to encourage, support and promote Indigenous ways of knowing, woven throughout all courses, classes and programs.

USask is committed to building a strong foundation for a better tomorrow and to embracing manachitowin — respecting one another. However you choose to commemorate the 26th National Indigenous Peoples Day on the summer solstice — marking the longest day of light in the year — we hope you do take the time to reflect and to re-commit to your own role in reconciliation as we work together in building equitable, diverse, and inclusive communities and a Canada for all.

Peter Stoicheff
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Saskatchewan