September 30 marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as well as Orange Shirt Day. It is an important time to reflect on the painful impact and ongoing effect of the devastating residential school system in Canada. It is also an important time to honour Survivors and the children who never made it home.
Colonialism and systemic discrimination are deeply entrenched within Canadian institutions. As a university we have a unique and significant role to play in shaping the future of our communities, fostering truth, and co-creating innovative solutions that facilitate action and reconciliation.
It’s up to all of us to work together to chart a strong path forward so true healing can happen.
Guided by U of G’s Indigenous Initiatives Strategy, Bi-Naagwad, we are actively working towards decolonization and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, communities, and lands. Recently, U of G established two elected senate seats for First Nations, Inuit, or Métis students, and one for a First Nations, Inuit, or Métis faculty member. Our commitment to increasing representation of Black and Indigenous faculty and staff is well underway, with at least 15 Black and Indigenous faculty and more Black and Indigenous professional staff to be hired across the University by 2025.
As we look to the future, our strategic plan, Our Time, outlines our deep commitment to transforming our University through Indigenization, equity, diversity, and inclusion. By collaborating with Indigenous communities and fostering equitable learning and work environments, the University of Guelph is committed to advancing truth and reconciliation.
We know that there is more work to do. Reconciliation is a long, difficult road. We remain steadfast in our commitment to walk this road together with our Indigenous campus family and with our community partners.
Events and resources on campus
Following a week-long schedule of events at U of G commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, today we encourage our community to take part in important observances and learning opportunities.
Check out the National Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023: Honouring Survivors collection curated by the University of Guelph Library. You can also spend time reflecting outdoors by walking the Mtigwaaki Trail, engaging with the land and learning from interpretive signs that explore the forest from an Anishinabek perspective.
Take a virtual walk through Guelph-Humber’s Meditation Labyrinth. This immersive art experience was created by the Early Childhood Studies (ECS) program to represent the thousands of survivors and children lost to Canadian residential schools.
We recognize that Indigenous members of our community might be feeling particularly vulnerable today. We want you to know we are here for you. There are supports available. They include:
- Indigenous Student Advising
- Student Support Network
- Student Counselling Services, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53244
- Hope for Wellness – immediate emotional support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, call 1-855-242-3310, or by online chat at hopeforwellness.ca
- Good2Talk, 1-866-925-5454
- Crisis Text Line, text “UofG” to 686868
- Keep.meSAFE (for international students), 1-844-451-9700
- Multi-Faith Resource Team, 519-824-4120, Ext. 58909
- Employee Assistance Program (for faculty and staff), 1-800-265-8310
Please join us and members of the U of G community as we mourn and reflect on the past, and commit to building a strong, inclusive, and accountable foundation for our future together.
Dr. Charlotte A.B. Yates
President and vice-chancellor
Assistant Vice-President, Indigenous Initiatives