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Queen’s, Indigenous communities to celebrate important milestone

The Queen’s University community, along with Indigenous partners and local community members, will come together March 21 for a special reception to celebrate the release of the final report of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force.

The event, hosted by Principal Daniel Woolf, marks an important milestone for the university as it moves to improving and building good relations with the Indigenous community and creating meaningful institutional change.

Lecturer Nathan Brinklow marked the beginning of a special Senate meeting March 7, held to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Queen's first class, with a traditional Mohawk-language opening. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

“I am very excited about this celebration, and I look forward to welcoming the community to this historic event,” says Principal Woolf. “As a university, we want not only to honour and congratulate the members of the TRC Task Force at Queen’s on the important work they’ve completed over the past year, but also to commit publicly to ensuring that the recommendations are carried out in an appropriate and timely manner.”

The Queen’s task force formed in April 2016 to begin the work of responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report on the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system for Aboriginal children. Composed of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, staff, students, senior administrators, and community members, the task force considered how to meaningfully respond to the TRC’s calls to action.

In addition, the task force explored how the university can play an active role in addressing the broader themes of the TRC report, including relationship-building, changing perspectives and policy, and promoting an awareness of the rights, histories, and contemporary issues of Indigenous Peoples.

“I am very optimistic for the outcome of the TRC task force recommendations, especially given the recent special Senate meeting, where a Friendship Wampum Belt from local Indigenous communities was presented to Queen’s, and the principal acknowledged Queen’s role in the colonial system that was responsible for the residential school system,” says Mark Green, TRC Task Force co-chair and Professor, Civil Engineering.

Dr. Green, along with Queen’s TRC Task Force co-chair Jill Scott, will welcome guests to the March 21 reception, which will include a presentation of the task force’s report and recommendations, remarks from the principal, and several performances by local Aboriginal groups.

The reception will be held in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 5:30-7 pm. All are welcome. Space is limited. RSVP to principal.events@queensu.ca to confirm your plan to attend.

*Over the next two weeks, in celebration of the release of the TRC Task Force’s final report, the Gazette will feature several profiles of Indigenous members of the task force. The first profile will be published Thursday, March 16 – featuring Janice Hill, Director, Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.