King’s Observes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

King's Observes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Dear King’s Community,

On Saturday, September 30, King’s and people across the country will observe the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. When Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 Calls to Action [PDF] in 2015, among these was a Call to Action for the federal government of Canada to establish a statutory holiday “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.” Indeed, before September 30 became a federal holiday, it was observed by many as Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots movement developed to honour residential school survivors. Though the TRC successfully campaigned for a day of observance to be enshrined in Canadian law, its Call to Action remains unanswered without our active participation in honouring Survivors, their families and communities and in the ongoing work of Reconciliation.

Reconciliation is a process and a spirit, with implications on the way we live, teach, study and socialize. It is work that takes an open heart, and it is work that offers rewards in turn. At King’s, we are in the early stages of this work, but little by little progress is becoming evident, and our community is growing richer for it. This year, the Foundation Year Program featured the lecture by Chief Stephen Augustine on the Mi’kmaw creation story in the first week of the program. As a university that teaches journalism, King’s holds itself accountable to the TRC Calls to Action addressing journalism and journalism education. One part of the university’s response has been to ensure that journalism students learn how to report on Indigenous issues responsibly, something they are taught in the groundbreaking course developed by Assistant Professors Trina Roache and Terra Tailleur, Reporting in Mi’kma’ki. Equally, we must support the development of more Indigenous voices in journalism. The Mi’kmaw Journalism Cohort, which welcomed its first members this fall, is one way we are working toward that goal.

Last fall, Emily Pictou-Roberts, BA(Hons)’20, returned to King’s to take on the role of the university’s first Nsukwi’ (Auntie-in-Residence). Soon we will begin to interview candidates for the role of Indigenous Support and Outreach Coordinator. These roles are vital to ensuring we offer adequate support to King’s small, but growing, population of Indigenous students, so that we can say truthfully that King’s is a place where an Indigenous student can maintain and celebrate their Indigenous identity. This month, we celebrated a milestone on the way to becoming the more welcoming environment we seek to be, as Assistant Professor Roache and Nsukwi’ Emily hosted a special welcome event to open the university’s first dedicated Mawio’mio’kuom (Indigenous Student Centre).

As stated, we are in the early stages of this work. And for every step of progress we have made, we have benefitted enormously from the generosity of Indigenous members of this community who have shared their expertise and insight to help us do better. While their generosity has helped us to begin this journey, it is not fair or right to lean on a few members of our community to light the path of Reconciliation for us. Neither do we want to go forward without Indigenous guidance and expertise. That is why the Mawaknutma’tnej Circle was created in 2022. Bringing together representatives from numerous Mi’kmaw communities, Mi’kmaw students, faculty members and alumni, along with other members of King’s administration, faculty and staff, the Circle will help us to determine the steps necessary to become a more welcoming place for Indigenous students, faculty and staff, and hold us to account for our the contributions we are making to Reconciliation.

If you are in the Halifax area, there will be a number of events taking place to mark September 30, including a flag raising and proclamation reading at Halifax City Hall at 10 a.m. The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre will host events on a drop-in basis beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday through to 2 p.m., and on Sunday it will host a schedule of events from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. to mark Treaty Day in Nova Scotia, a day of celebration that commemorates the day in 1752 when treaties of peace and friendship were signed between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown.

Together, let us work toward Reconciliation as a community, exploring every day what it means to be Treaty People.




William Lahey
President, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Law

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