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Message for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day

Good morning, We recognize that this message contains upsetting content. The following support services are available:

Good morning,

We recognize that this message contains upsetting content. The following support services are available:

  • If you are a student, the First Nations Centre (Roxanne Umpherville, Aboriginal Student Life Navigator - 250-960-5010) and UNBC Counselling Services (250-960-6369) provide programming and support.
  • UNBC students can also access Here2Talk, a 24/7 counselling and community referral service.
  • UNBC employees can access the Employee and Family Assistance Program at 1-800-663-1142 for 24/7 access to confidential, professional counselling services.
  • A National Residential School Crisis Line offers emotional support and crisis referral services for residential school Survivors and their families. The toll-free crisis line number is 1-866-925-4419. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As we mark the second year for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as well as Orange Shirt Day this Friday, September 30, we commemorate the children whose lives were lost and honour the Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.

Only by reflecting on the horrors perpetrated against Indigenous People, listening to the lived experiences of Survivors and honouring their resiliency do we begin to acknowledge in a meaningful way the true impacts of Canada’s tragic history and actively embark on the path towards reconciliation.

At UNBC, we are committed to Indigenization efforts that work towards reconciliation, support healing and create a safe, inclusive learning environment.

This fall, we launched a new set of research internships and scholarships for Indigenous students, in partnership with the national not-for-profit research organization, Mitacs. The Indigenous Research Ambassador program is aimed at equipping participants with the skills needed to introduce respectful, culturally sensitive and collaborative community-based research tools to fellow students, using Indigenous and non-Indigenous research methodologies.

Indigenous Studies 101 is a professional development workshop series offered to students, faculty and staff by First Nations Studies Associate Professor, Dr. Daniel Sims, over the course of the fall and winter semesters. The eight free workshops are an opportunity to explore a diverse range of Indigenous topics from an Indigenous perspective.

Last night, a celebratory event officially marked the re-naming of the art gallery in the Teaching Lab Rotunda to the Robert Frederick Gallery. The Lheidli T’enneh Elder and carver had strong ties to the University, including sharing his knowledge in a number of courses and teaching two courses with his wife, Edie.

Today, we will be unveiling a new Indigenous art installation by renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Simon Daniel James, also known as Winadzi, in the Library Learning Commons lounge area at 12:00 p.m. Entitled ‘Reconciling Light’. Winadzi’s piece depicts both the atrocities of residential school experiences and the remarkable strength and resilience of Survivors.

We know there is much more to do as we all work towards meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. I invite you to make time for this important work and to participate in events on campus and in the community. Please consider attending local events this Friday, September 30:

  • In Prince George, UNBC is honoured to support the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation in hosting a community event for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in the bandshell on their ancestral lands now known as Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park in Prince George between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.. A moment of silence will be observed at 2:15 p.m. to acknowledge the 215 unmarked graves located at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
  • The Kermode Friendship Society is hosting a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation commemorative totem pole raising at 11:00 a.m. in front of Waaps Sagayt K’uulm Goot in Terrace. The pole was carved by Northwest Coast artist, Stan Bevan. The pole raising will be followed by a feast in the Terrace banquet room.
  • The Lhtako Dené Nation is hosting Orange Shirt Day in Lhtako Dené Park in Quesnel, with opening prayers at 10:00 a.m. and a moment of silence at 2:15 p.m..
  • Treaty 8 First Nations will be hosting a prayer and drumming circle at 11:00 a.m. at Centennial Park in Fort St. John, followed by a walk and BBQ.
  • For those unable to attend in-person events, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be broadcasting live from a national gathering in LeBreton Flats Park in Ottawa at 10:00 a.m. PT on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

Next month, Lheidli T’enneh Elder, Darlene McIntosh, will be sworn in as UNBC’s eighth Chancellor at a special celebration on October 21. Elder McIntosh has been pivotal in strengthening the University’s relationship with the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. 

Relationships are key in the journey towards truth and reconciliation. I would like to encourage members of our University community to foster relationships and take advantage of opportunities to listen, learn and grow. It is through these relationships that we will find our way forward.

Thank you,

Geoff PayneUNBC President and Vice-Chancellor

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