Orange Shirt Day was on Sept. 30 and the shíshálh Nation held an event at the residential school survivors Memorial Monument to honour the survivors and their descendants at the very spot where St. Augustine’s Residential School stood for over 50 years. Students and faculty members from Capilano University were generously welcomed to attend the ceremony and engage in the festivities that followed. We were honoured to witness the courage of the survivors who attended St. Augustine’s and moved to hear the pain they endured as children, and the resilience and commitment to their healing. Their stories spoke Truth without which there cannot be Reconciliation, including reconciling the history of colonialism that has impacted us all.
As an educational institution, we at Capilano University have a special call to action as education was once used as a tool of oppression and brutality wielded through the Indian Residential School System.
Two years ago at kálax-ay, the Sunshine Coast Campus of Capilano University, students and staff celebrated the signing of an Affiliation Agreement with the shíshálh Nation. This was to formalize and expand upon our existing collaboration in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation and mutual respect. Since then we have had the opportunity to build upon that agreement with programming, hiring of faculty, undergoing cultural safety training, and other activities that move the voices of the Indigenous people of our community to the centre of our thinking and planning.
One series of events that has emerged since the TRC Walk in Vancouver, which drew over 70,000 people, is TRC Week at Capilano University, this year to be held from Oct. 15 to 19. Plans include opportunities for dialogue and learning, dedicated academic work within the curriculum, campus events, and opportunities to demonstrate our commitment to deeper understanding and systemic change. At our campus, we will be engaging in a facilitated dialogue as to what Reconciliation could look like at kálax-ay, to be followed by the hanging of a TRC quilt made by the campus community. All are welcome to attend Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. to join in the dialogue, ceremony and light refreshments.
– Co-written by Lydia Watson and Jules Smith