Sudbury, Ontario (September 28, 2021) -- On September 30th, Laurentian University will be marking the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to grieve the victims and honour the survivors of residential schools. An estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were taken from their families and their communities and sent to residential schools across Canada during the 19th and 20th centuries, with the last residential school closing in 1996, the legacies of which persist to this day. On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Laurentian community will come together in the spirit of truth, action, and sincerity to face the difficult truths of what has happened to Indigenous communities of this land.
Laurentian students, faculty, and staff are invited to a series of activities:
- A Sacred Fire will be held in the Wiigwaam to honour the children of residential schools. The community will be invited to offer semaanh (tobacco), mashkodewashk (sage), giizhik (cedar) and wiingashk (sweetgrass).
- The community will renew and care for the Apology Cairn in Parking Lot #15, which marks the site where Indigenous communities gathered to receive the first apology by one of four churches that administered residential schools in 1986, planting Medicines such as mashkodewashk (sage) and semaanh (tobacco) and preparing the Cairn for Spring planting. Students and classrooms in particular are invited to join at 2 P.M.
- In honour of the children of residential schools, missing and murdered Métis, First Nations, and Inuit women, men, girls, boys and 2SLGBTQQIA, the Laurentian community will plant a maple tree, to be planted in front of the Parker Building, near the Laurentian sign, greeting the community as they arrive.
- The Laurentian community is invited to observe 2:15 minutes of silence at 2:15 p.m. in recognition of the 215 children found by Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in May 2021, as well as the children for whom communities continue to search. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to observe these 2:15 minutes of silence wherever they might find themselves on campus or in the community.
- The community is encouraged to wear orange shirts, commemorating the bright orange shirt six-year old Phyllis Webstad proudly received from her grandmother and which was taken away from her on her first day at residential school. We also encourage the community to download Zoom backgrounds that honour the children of residential schools.
- In partnership with the Student General Association (SGA), the University will participate in ‘Light the Country Orange,’ illuminating the heart of Indigenous life and culture at Laurentian in orange light, including the Wiigwaam and the entrance to the Parker Building in Founder’s Square, the Round Room and the Student Centre. The idea was proposed to communities across Canada by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) based at the University of Manitoba.
- Students, faculty, and staff passing through the Atrium of the Parker Building will be encouraged to speak out and write down on orange sticky notes how they are or will contribute to reconciliation efforts at Laurentian.
- Laurentian is pleased to welcome guest speakers Grace Fox, Marthe Brown, and Harvey Trudeau who will share their experiences with residential schools as well as their acts of reconciliation. The discussion will take place in the Atrium at 11 A.M.
Laurentian is also pleased to make the following announcements:
- The University will announce the recipient of the Kina Binoojiinyag Gchinendaagsiwag (Every Child Matters/Chaque Enfant Compte) Scholarship established by the Indigenous Sharing & Learning Centre (ISLC). This scholarship, which prioritizes applicants studying in the field of language revitalization, recognizes Indigenous learners’ commitment to putting their education at the service of their communities.
- It is with great appreciation to the Vancouver and Calgary studios of Perkins&Will Canada and KPMB Architects for their philanthropic support that Laurentian is pleased to announce its partnership with Indspire, an Indigenous organization that supports First Nations, Inuit, and Métis learners in their pursuit of education.
- The partnership will create three awards to recognize Indigenous students at the Laurentian University McEwen School of Architecture. Selection criteria will focus on academic achievement, design excellence, and be based on a student’s connection to their Indigenous heritage.
- In collaboration with the Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig in Sault Ste. Marie, the Laurentian University Library and Archives is honoured to announce that it has recently received official authorization by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to access and use the trial record and the trial materials of the landmark Restoule v. Canada (Attorney General) legal case in order to digitally preserve and make them available on the Internet.
- Restoule v. Canada represents a step towards reconciliation by considering, partly through Anishinaabe law and governance, and granting an increase in annuity payments guaranteed to the Anishinaabe people by the 1850 Robinson Huron and Robinson Superior Treaties.
The community is encouraged to tune in throughout the day on Laurentian’s social media channels for special coverage of the day’s activities. Follow Laurentian on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Laurentian thanks all participants who have committed themselves today to ensuring that the community has every opportunity to come together in a spirit of action, humility, and sincerity.