Dear MSVU students, faculty and staff,
September 30th is both the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day.
Both events honour the children who never returned home from residential schools and the Survivors, families and communities. “Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.” (Canada.ca)
Additionally, October 1 is Treaty Day and marks the start of Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia.
I strongly encourage all members of the MSVU and broader communities to join in marking these observances, and I outline a few opportunities below. But first, some updates on important related initiatives.
Truth and Reconciliation Committee
Late last year, MSVU established a new Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, staff and students, the committee aims to support implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation strategies in the university’s strategic plan. The committee has struck three working groups aligned with those strategies and undertaken a series of member orientation sessions. Stay tuned for updates.
Kinu Tourism Project
The Kinu Project team, in collaboration with MSVU Business and Tourism faculty and staff together with Indigenous community partners and tourism professionals, continues to engage in curriculum renewal to create an Indigenous-informed Tourism and Hospitality Management Program. The Kinu Tourism project is guided by extensive engagement with Indigenous community leaders, tourism professionals, educators, Knowledge Holders, Elders, and others across Mi’kma’ki. Along with increasing public awareness of Canada’s true history, Mi’kmaw/Indigenous culture, tradition, and language, the Kinu Tourism project aims to support the education of future Indigenous tourism leaders and entrepreneurs, build capacity within the Indigenous communities and grow the Indigenous tourism sector. The first Kinu cohort of Indigenous students are set to begin in September 2024.
This past January, John R. Sylliboy, MSVU alum and member of the L’nu Advisory Circle, became the first to hold the new dedicated Senate seat for an Indigenous representative at the university. Across his many roles at MSVU and in the community, John’s a leader in building support and awareness for Indigenous communities, in particular Two-Spirit people.
I encourage you to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Orange Shirt Day, Treaty Day and Mi’kmaq History Month in some of the following ways:
- Share a reflection: Take to social media to share what Truth and Reconciliation means to you. Tag MSVU so that we can build a collection of our reflections that enables us to learn from one another.
- Wear orange: Wear orange on September 30 to help promote awareness of the impacts – past and present – of the Canadian residential school system. If you’re buying a new orange shirt, buy from a Mi’kmaq designer or entrepreneur or through a fundraiser that supports Indigenous communities. [More info: orangeshirtday.org]
- Attend a special event:
- On campus
The MSVU Art Gallery will feature an exhibit on the Two-Eyed Seeing Program called “The Lifecycle of the Boat.” This exhibit, sponsored by the Two-Eyed Seeing Program, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, and the MSVU Art Gallery, represents relationships that make this program possible in a tangible/ literal way, featuring activities that showcase Western and Indigenous sciences, strengths and synergies. This exhibit will be centered around a boat built, painted, blessed and launched by Mi’kmaq youth from Sipekne’katik (Indian Brook) and Wasoqopa’q (Acadia) with mentors from Sipekne’katik (Indian Brook), Wasoqopa’q (Acadia), Millbrook, and Pictou Landing Communities, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Mount Saint Vincent University (Child & Youth Study and Applied Human Nutrition), and elsewhere. The boat building and painting workshop (2022) featured artist Alan Sylliboy, Millbrook, and water walker and grassroots grandmother, Dorene Bernard, Sipekne’katik, and others.
- In the community
The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre is hosting a number of events on September 30 and October 1. View the full schedule of events.
- From home
APTN will broadcast the commemorative gathering Remembering The Children: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2023 from Parliament Hill live on September 30 at 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Time. [Learn more about the broadcast]
That National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting a series of lunch and learns open to all – register here.
- On campus
- Listen, read, watch:
- At the first meeting of MSVU’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee, we watched the video “Is it Really Genocide? In Canada?” I encourage you to watch it too.
- You can also visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation online and find links to a number of books, documentaries, podcasts, websites, academic resources, and more in the Indigenous Resource Hub/L’nuey Etl-Mawo’tumk on the MSVU website.
- Learn about the Covenant Chain of Treaties of Peace and Friendship. MSVU is located on the unceded ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq People, which is covered by these treaties. It’s important that we build an understanding of these treaties as living documents. We are all treaty people.
Dr. Joël Dickinson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University