A message from Ramona Lumpkin, CM, PhD, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor
Earlier this summer, the Government of Canada passed legislation to make September 30th a new statutory annual holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The establishment of this new holiday was first proposed in 2015 as the 80th call to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which says:
“We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Mount Saint Vincent University will be observing this holiday; the university will be closed on September 30 and classes will not be held. As per usual (and in keeping with current collective agreements), a limited number of staff will be required to work on this day, though they can take this day at another time. Please speak with your supervisor should you have any questions. Required adjustments to the fall timetable and exam schedule are as follows:
- The final day of classes will be Thursday, December 9,
- Reading day will be Friday, December 10, and
- The last day of exams will be Monday, December 20.
- I encourage members of our community to spend this day learning about and reflecting on the devastating history and legacy of residential schools, as well as other aspects of Indigenous history, culture, and experiences. We will share more information about opportunities for reflection and education as September 30 nears.
The first observance of this new holiday is painfully timely, as bodies of children who died at residential schools across Canada are being recovered from unmarked graves. We stand with survivors, the families of these children, and all Indigenous community members in grief. Moreover, we stand committed to advancing meaningful acts of truth and reconciliation.
Right now, MSVU is advancing critical conversations about our university’s connection to residential schools. We are seeking advice and listening to Indigenous voices – in particular members of the L’nu Advisory Circle and survivors – as Indigenous advisors have recommended. This advice will focus on what Indigenous leaders believe would be helpful to their communities and what form actions might take. One request has been made clear in discussions with Indigenous advisors to this point: MSVU should continue to work with Indigenous experts to build educational programs and services that will benefit the Indigenous youth of today and tomorrow. I will continue to keep you updated on this important effort.