King’s to Observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

King's to Observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Dear King’s Community,

September 30, 2021, will mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a federal statutory holiday established “to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.” In honour of this important day and with deep respect for the Indigenous communities who have long advocated to have the brutal legacy of residential schools recognized, the University of King’s College will close and no classes will be held on this day.

Since 2013 increasing numbers of people across the country have recognized September 30 as “Orange Shirt Day,” a day established by residential school survivors to commemorate their experiences. In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, proposed a national day for Canadians to honour the survivors of residential schools. When the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was finally passed into legislation by the Federal Government of Canada in June of 2021, it came only days after the announcement by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation that the unmarked graves of 215 children lie on the property of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

This announcement and subsequent announcements regarding the discovery of still more unmarked graves on the grounds of other residential schools across the country puts into stark relief the urgent need for Canadians to take on the work of truth and reconciliation.

To those members of the Indigenous community at King’s who are suffering with these revelations, we offer our support. On behalf of King’s, we stand with you, with the Mi’kmaw Nation and with Indigenous people across the country. I would like to reiterate our commitment to the work of truth and reconciliation in our campus community and I offer the reminder that the Elders of The Elders in Residence Program at Dalhousie are available to the King’s community for guidance, counsel and support. In addition the Indigenous Student Centre, also at Dalhousie, is open to provide support to King’s as well as Dalhousie students.

As part of the work of truth and reconciliation, we encourage members of the King’s community to engage in events and activities that will be taking place around the King’s and Dalhousie campuses on September 30. These events, as well as those happening throughout Halifax and in communities across the country, will provide us with excellent opportunities to listen, learn and reflect on the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples. This is particularly true for those of us who are not Indigenous. We will share details about such events and other opportunities to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation closer to the date.

It is incumbent upon all of us to bear witness to this legacy and to join in the collective efforts to rethink our understandings of, and attitudes toward, the Canadian past and present. At King’s we pride ourselves on living and learning in community: the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation offers us a chance to listen and learn from people in our communities whose experiences and knowledge must inform our way forward. I very much hope you will join me in taking advantage of this opportunity.


William Lahey
President and Vice-Chancellor

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