Truth and Reconciliation: A week of reflection

tānisi. hãn. ëdƚanet’e? taanishi. aniin [Cree. Dakota/Lakota/Nakota. Dene. Michif. Saulteaux]

Friday, September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for all of Canada. This day was born out of the Call to Action number 80:

80. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration
with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory
holiday, a National Day for Truth, and Reconciliation to
honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and
ensure that public commemoration of the history and
legacy of residential schools remains a vital component
of the reconciliation process.

Last year, the university-wide Mistatimōk (which translates to "horses" and the concept of "working together" in Saulteaux) committee planned events over the course of a week with the intention to encourage USask members to reflect on the history of Truth and Reconciliation. In 2021, the committee planned events of reflection in which individuals could participate within COVID-19 restrictions. Orange banners with the Calls to Action pertaining to post-secondary education were hung in the Bowl, orange gels were placed on the lighting in the core of campus, and the Calls to Action were projected onto an orange glowing Peter MacKinnon Building. The Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre was glowing orange with amazing imagery for an outdoor opening night with Residential School Survivors Florence Highway and Evelyn Linklater, and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan Elder Norman Fleury. We encouraged the USask community to visit the exhibit Not Just Another Day Off: Orange Shirt Day and the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools in the library. The committee also sponsored an orange ribbon movement, asking individuals to tie an orange ribbon anywhere on campus and make a personal commitment to Truth and Reconciliation for the coming year.

This year we are continuing the theme of A Week of Reflection and that September 30 is not just another day off. We will see the campus ablaze with orange lighting and projections of the Calls to Action on the Peter MacKinnon Building and the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre. We encourage the USask, and larger, community to stroll through the bowl and read the orange banners, visit the library’s website for suggested reading, podcasts, and movies, and show support through participating in the many activities happening on campus and around Saskatoon.

The week of reflection begins today, Monday, September 26, at 4 pm in front of the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre to initiate the collection of the orange ribbons placed across campus in 2021. This collection will begin with words from Residential School Survivors Evelyn Linklater and Florence Highway. Ribbons can also be delivered at any time over the coming weeks to the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Center and placed in the designated basket. The ribbons, and commitments made by USask members in 2021, will be featured in an art installation to be revealed in September 2023.

Activities for this week of reflection have been expanded this year​, including a movie viewing of the PBS documentary Home from School: The Children of Carlisle. There will also be a special presentation hosted by the College of Kinesiology, Treaty Education: “Before Treaty, at Treaty and Today,” by Elaine Sutherland, Director of Treaty Education, Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Other planned events include a panel discussion at the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre on supporting Residential School Survivors and their families. Huskie Athletics is sponsoring events supporting the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation throughout the week as well as Friday night at both the football and hockey games. For a full listing of this week’s events and resources, please visit the Office of the Vice Provost, Indigenous Engagement website.

Ohpahotân | oohpaahotaan, the Indigenous Strategy, is the voice of Indigenous Peoples gifting a framework for the University of Saskatchewan’s reconciliation journey recognizing the University’s role in building communities across this province and is an expression of self-determination. Today we begin a week of events fostering learning, listening and reflecting to remember the children lost to the residential school system and honour Survivors, their families, and their communities. We can each commit to never forgetting and always caring for those impacted by colonization.

In solidarity,

Dr. Angela Jaime, Interim Vice Provost, Indigenous Engagement