Lorne Clifford, Director of Security Services at Lakehead, and Elder Catherine McGuire raise the Survivors' Flag outside of Lakehead's Agora.
September 7, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont.
Lakehead University is hosting a series of Truth and Reconciliation-themed events in September that will honour survivors of residential schools along with their families and the children who didn’t return home.
In Thunder Bay, Lakehead University representatives raised a National Truth and Reconciliation flag on Thursday, Sept. 7 on the steps outside the Agora.
The Survivors’ Flag is an expression of remembrance, meant to honour residential school survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada.
Each element depicted on the flag was carefully selected by survivors from across Canada, who were consulted in the flag’s creation.
“I am proud to be part of an institution that is continuing to address reconciliation,” said Dr. Gillian Siddall, Lakehead’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “It is imperative that Lakehead University engages meaningfully with the urgent and necessary work responding to the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
“I hope students, faculty, and staff can attend as many events as possible to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation and what it means to the future of Canada,” Dr. Siddall said.
Denise Baxter, Vice-Provost, Indigenous Initiatives, said Lakehead recognizes the importance of education in the act of reconciliation.
“We’ve collaborated across multiple nations and communities to engage in reconciliation,” Baxter said.
“Though we work on this all year, September is a time to recognize our efforts and recommit to collaborating with communities and nations on pathways forward.”
Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum of Nishnawbe Aski Nation said: “It’s important and necessary that every single educational institution in Canada and worldwide adopt and utilize the true history in their curriculum.”
Red Sky Métis Independent Nation offered thanks to Lakehead University for the opportunity to attend the flag raising ceremony.
“Reconciliation is about healing the effects of the cruel treatment endured by our elders in the past, it is the process of mending a broken relationship through dedication, education and respect,” said Donelda DeLaRonde, Executive Director of Red Sky Métis Independent Nation.
“Reconciliation is merely the next step in the journey of unity and equality in the country we all call home,” DeLaRonde said.
“Raising the Survivors’ Flag is symbolic of our collective efforts to create space and place, both to acknowledge our past and to recognize the current challenge of promoting healing in our community,” said Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff.
Aseel Hashim, Vice-President, Advocacy at LUSU, said it is vital to acknowledge that not long ago, Indigenous peoples were forced to learn in ways that were antithetical to their cultures and traditions.
“Events like these are essential on college and university campuses because they signify our dedication to providing education in a decolonial and Indigenized manner. We ensure that the horrors of the past are never repeated in spaces meant for the exchange of knowledge.”
Lakehead University will host several free events open to the public throughout the month of September, leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.
On Monday, Sept. 11, join artist Ryan Pooman in a community-based art project in the Agora from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. This will include a conversation to share what reconciliation means to you. From this session, Pooman will paint a piece that you will help create.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13, you are welcome to attend Tipi Talk with Elder Sheila Decorte from 12 to 1 pm in the Agora Circle, discussing reconciliation and what it means for all of us.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, a Fall Harvest Feast will be held from 11 am to 2 pm at the Sweat Lodge Site with Elders who will offer cultural teachings and you can sample traditional foods. Pickerel will be donated by the Métis Nation of Ontario.
On Monday, Sept. 18 from 10 am to 2 pm, artist Ryan Pooman will return to the Agora with his art project. Attendees will continue helping him create a permanent piece to be exhibited on campus.
On Tuesday, Sept. 19, Powley Day will be held in the Agora from 12:30 to 1:30 pm in the Agora, celebrating the anniversary of the landmark Métis rights victory at the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Powley.
On Thursday, Sept. 21, Melody Chislett-Morris from Métis Nation of Ontario will host a Métis 101 workshop from 12 to 3 pm in the Faculty Lounge, to bring awareness and knowledge to Métis history, culture, and way of life.
On Friday, Sept. 22, Dr. Kristin Burnett, Chair of Indigenous Learning, Dr. Judith Leggatt from English, and Dr. Toby Rollo from Political Science will discuss Settler Responsibility, Reconciliation, and the Indigenous Content Requirement, from 10:30 am to 11:30 am in ATAC 5035.
On Monday, Sept. 25, artist Ryan Pooman returns to unveil the art that you helped create, from 12 to 1 pm in the Agora.
On Thursday, Sept. 28 from 12 to 1 pm, Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Lakehead’s Chair on Truth and Reconciliation, will hold a virtual talk (Zoom) discussing if universities are meeting the challenge of reconciliation.
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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 9,000 students in THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.