President's Message on Truth and Reconciliation Day
To our University Community,
This Friday, September 30, is Canada’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As announced in a previous message, we are cancelling classes and honouring this day for the purpose of reflection.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran from 2008–2015, released a report with 94 Calls to Action. From these calls to action, Universities Canada developed its Principles of Indigenous Education. Those Principles, along with the Calls to Action, have guided the work of reconciliation at Lakehead University.
Throughout September, many events and activities were offered to our community by Lakehead’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives. I hope that you found time to engage in some of the many opportunities.
I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous work Lakehead’s Chair on Truth and Reconciliation, Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, has done and continues to do. Her efforts include developing and supporting education tools, as well as advocacy and community work.
Earlier this month, we hosted Indigenous leaders and Elders at both our campuses for the raising of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s Survivors Flag and to officially unveil our new Seven Feathers crosswalks. The flag is an expression of remembrance, meant to honour residential school survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by Canada’s residential school system. Today, survivors, their children, and their grandchildren are walking a path of healing. Lakehead University commits to walking the path of truth and reconciliation alongside them.
We acknowledge that our Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses are located on the traditional lands of Fort William First Nation, and the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg and of the Rama First Nation, respectively.
Lakehead University acknowledges the history that many nations hold in the areas around our campuses, and is committed to a relationship with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples based on the principles of mutual trust, respect, and collaboration in the spirit of reconciliation.
I look forward to strengthening the University’s engagement with Indigenous communities and working together to enhance experiences and outcomes for Indigenous students.
As we embrace open and constructive dialogue among cultures, and to enhancing shared knowledge, I encourage you to find your own ways to reflect and to help Lakehead continue to approach the deep and ongoing commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.
Dr. Moira McPherson
President and Vice-Chancellor