This year, the last day of September will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a newly designated day of remembrance to honour victims and survivors of Canada’s Indigenous residential school system.
In support of this important moment of reflection and learning, units across Queen’s are preparing several activities and opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to learn, engage, and act toward advancing reconciliation both on and off campus.
This effort is being led by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII) with planning and ongoing partnership and support for this year’s events provided by the Chancellor, the Principal, the Provost as well as the Associate Vice-Principal Teaching and Learning, the Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration), University Relations and Procurement Services.
“While discoveries of mass and unmarked graves at former residential school sites may have shocked the consciousness of many Canadians this year, Indigenous communities have for years spoken of the abuse and atrocities that occurred at these places,” says Principal Patrick Deane. “Positive change can only be sought through listening, understanding, and respectful action. Queen’s is deeply committed to this task, and we urge all of our campus community members to become involved in advancing this crucial work.”
On Sept. 30, the university is planning for a commemorative moment of silence, as well as a traditional Indigenous ceremony at which the campus community can reflect on the legacy of residential schools and re-affirm its commitment to reconciliation.
Queen’s students, faculty, and staff are asked to wear an orange shirt on that day, as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation falls on what has been Orange Shirt Day—a grassroots action created in 2013 calling for people to wear orange shirts as a show of solidarity with survivors and in honour of their healing journeys. The university is distributing 10,000 orange shirt decals to members of our campus community along with 4,000 orange T-shirts to staff and faculty. These items are meant to help create a visual reminder of the commitment made to advance reconciliation. Prior to receiving an orange T-shirt, recipients will be asked to sign a commitment to advance reconciliation – not just on September 30, but beyond. Offices interested in obtaining T-shirts and/or decals for distribution to staff in your units, please complete this short sign-up survey at your earliest convenience. Quantities are limited and T-shirts/decals will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
“A new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation meets an important recommendation that will serve as an annual reminder that reconciliation is an ongoing process informed by truth,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation). “It is important for all of us in the Queen’s community and in Canada to strive daily to create a more positive, harmonious, and thoughtful future together.”
To learn how you can you can become involved in on-campus events in support of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and to explore learning resources, visit the Office of Indigenous Initiatives website. The page will be updated over the coming weeks as more events and recognition activities are confirmed and unveiled, so check back regularly.
Originally published in Queen's Gazette