Dear King’s community—Kwe’,
Today at King’s, from our living and learning community located on unceded Mi’kmaw land, we join with others to honour the unique heritages, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples who generously share their land and its resources, their history, customs, languages, knowledge and wisdom. As I said last year on National Indigenous Peoples Day, for those of us who are settler guests, when you offer us the chance to learn together you offer a gift that strengthens us all.
Since writing to you on this day last year, and in the spirit of learning, I share a few tangible steps King’s has taken toward a new relationship with Mi’kmaw partners and communities. As we grow, intentional acts toward reconciliation have been initiated such as our partnering to create the Mawagnutma’tnej Advisory Circle (formerly the Mi’kmaw – Indigenous Advisory Circle), an invaluable source of wisdom and guidance as we move forward together.
In September, we will welcome the first students of the Cohort of Mi’kmaw journalism students, an initiative we announced in September last year. Our $600,000 investment in this program, and in other initiatives to better support all the Indigenous members of our community, includes the creation of an Indigenous Students’ Space at King’s, which will open this fall in the former Dean’s suite, in a newly accessible Alex Hall.
In November of last year, together with Mount Saint Vincent University, we welcomed King’s alum Emily Pictou-Roberts BA(Hons)’20 as the first Resident Nsukwi’ (Auntie-in-Residence) serving both universities. And we are now working with Dalhousie to create a position for a dedicated Indigenous Student Support person.
King’s is also looking forward to housing and hosting 252 athletes competing in the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in our residences next month. The NAIG will be an exciting opportunity to watch and enjoy Indigenous excellence from across the continent.
These important developments build on the continuing and growing success of the course King’s has been offering for the past three years in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Community College, Reporting in Mi’kma’ki.
About this year’s edition of the course, King’s professor Trina Roache, now a holder of a tenure-track position, recently wrote to Kathy Pratt LeGrow BA’70, the King’s alum whose generous giving made the course possible. Trina began, “[We offered] students so much more than lessons on reporting. We participated in a sweat and volunteered to work with Mi’kmaw high school students to interview Elders. Because of the funding, we’re able to pay for translations to incorporate the Mi’kmaw language in our work. … [One] of the Elders was more comfortable speaking Mi’kmaw, so his videos will be subtitled in English. This is such a key element to reporting responsibly. We had an incredible class and some truly amazing learning opportunities on Eskasoni.”
On this day that invites us to celebrate, learn and reflect, we share the course’s new website where you can read their stories, including “Kwe’ Eskasoni” which won Gold at the 2022 Canadian Online Publishing Awards this past February. And, if you are travelling or more in the mood for radio, Professor Roache gave a CBC interview about this course after it won the award, and it, too, is well worth the listen.
Finally, to celebrate Indigenous History Month, Books by Heart has assembled an engaging and varied selection of ebooks by Indigenous authors. These titles, and the full Books by Heart collection, are available for free until August.
The King’s community stretches across this great land. Wherever this note finds you, it is my hope that National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day of special observance, inspires us all to engage, as we can, in the essential work of ReconciliAction.
President, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Law