University of Alberta offers expression of reconciliation
Chancellor affirms university’s commitment to raising awareness of impact of residential schools and building more respectful relationships.
By NEWS STAFF
(Edmonton) The University of Alberta is committed to creating awareness among its 39,000 students and the larger community about the impact on Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples of the residential school system, and about the importance of building understanding and respect.
Chancellor Ralph Young read out the university’s expression of reconciliation March 29 to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, during the historic panel’s final national gathering held in Edmonton.
The commission was established nearly five years ago with a mandate to learn and share the truth with all Canadians about what happened in the residential schools, and to guide a process of healing towards reconciliation and renewed relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
Recognizing that the U of A’s campuses are situated on territory that is encompassed by Treaty 6 and that includes traditional places for Aboriginal Peoples, Young affirmed the university’s commitment to becoming a leader in raising awareness “of the negative impacts of colonization and the importance of building more respectful relationships” between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
The impacts of the residential school system continue to affect the lives of 12,000 survivors as well as many intergenerational survivors in Alberta, some of whom are members of the U of A community, and as a result, Young said, the university is working to become a leader in building awareness.
In working towards that commitment, the university is home to the only Faculty of Native Studies in Canada and recently developed mandatory credit courses in Aboriginal/Indigenous education, histories and contexts offered by the Faculty of Education. As well, the U of A is guided by an Aboriginal Strategy document that recognizes and supports Aboriginal perspectives in developing curriculum and research, creating welcoming environments and contributing to “ongoing public conversations about the relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians,” Young said in the expression of reconciliation.
Young also expressed the university’s support for the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and, thanking the commission for its work over the years, noted with pride that Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild is a U of A alumnus.
The expression of reconciliation, bearing University of Alberta letterhead, was laid in a ceremonial bentwood box following the reading.