The Conestoga community marked Canada's second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with events aimed at fostering conversations to increase understanding and strengthen paths forward.
The Conestoga community marked National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with events aimed at fostering conversations to increase understanding and strengthen paths forward, including a film screening at the college's Kitchener-Doon campus on September 29.
The national day of recognition, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day on September 30, honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities and provides opportunities to create meaningful dialogue and reflection around reconciliation.
Conestoga's Student Engagement, Indigenous Services (Be-Dah-Bin Gamik), Employee Experience & Development, and Conestoga Students Inc. collaborated to host engagement events in recognition on September 29. A film screening of We Were Children was hosted at the college's Kitchener - Doon campus, followed by a moderated discussion with Elders in Residence, Indigenous Services and Indigenous students. The event also featured an Indigenous catered lunch.
"Today is a day of reflection," said Trish Weigel Green, associate vice-president of Student Affairs, in opening remarks as she shared a personal story on reflection with her children. "I encourage you all to process the meaning of today in your own ways."
In addition to the film screening, a sacred fire was observed in the Indigenous Studies Teaching Garden, facilitated by a firekeeper who welcomed the community.
Close to 150,000 Indigenous children were sent to residential schools in Canada between 1831 and 1996, separated from families and stripped of language, culture and tradition to force assimilation. More than 6,000 survivors were compelled to tell their stories during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada from 2008 to 2015, detailing experiences that have left intergenerational impacts on families and communities.
Conestoga is committed to the process of reconciliation and support for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The college's response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action continues through ongoing emphasis on improving education and attainment levels and success rates of Indigenous learners. Institutional commitments have also resulted in the creation of research and land-based revitalization projects, educational opportunities for faculty and staff, and ongoing curriculum Indigenization initiatives across the college.
Conestoga's Be-Dah-Bin Gamik, established over a decade ago, supports the success of Indigenous students through ongoing services that assist in successful transitions to college life and connections to cultural traditions. Be-Dah-Bin Gamik also engages the broader college community through the development of resources, activities and events that build broader understandings of Indigenous Peoples and cultures while promoting the reconciliation process.
To learn more and access resources, visit Indigenous initiatives.