VICTORIA, B.C. – University and Indigenous leaders focused on the importance of working together to advance reconciliation during the 2018 National Building Reconciliation Forum held November 15 and 16 at the University of Victoria.
The theme of the fourth annual forum was Ts’its’u’ watul tseep, meaning to help one another in the HUL'Q'UMI'NUM' language. It reflects the commitment of participants to collaborate in answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. This year’s forum featured discussions on Indigenous child welfare, language and culture, and education and entrepreneurship.
At the closing ceremony of the forum, it was announced that a consortium of five post-secondary institutions – Algoma University, Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (an Anishinaabe Institution), Cape Breton University, Nipissing University and the University of Northern British Columbia will jointly host the 2019 National Building Reconciliation Forum. The event will be held at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, (also known as Baawating – the rapids – by the Anishinaabe) in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe people.
Algoma is the only university in Canada located on the site of a former residential school (Shingwauk Hall) and the university works closely with the Survivor community. The 2019 forum will focus on the strengths that smaller institutions bring to the national conversation on reconciliation through higher education.
Participants at the 2019 forum will have an opportunity to explore the first major, permanent, residential school Survivor-driven exhibition located in a former residential school building. The “Reclamation of Shingwauk Hall” exhibit, which opened in August 2018, honours over four decades of work led by the Survivor community in their efforts to tell the truth about the residential school past while contributing to national healing and reconciliation efforts.
Forum participants will also have an opportunity to take part in programming in a new Anishinabek Discovery Centre slated to open in 2019. The $10.2 million building, located adjacent to Algoma University, will be home to Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, one of nine Indigenous Institutes of higher learning legally recognized by the Province of Ontario. The facility will also house the National Chiefs Library, the first Indigenous-led research library in Canada.
Inspired by the 2015 Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the annual National Building Reconciliation Forum brings together leaders from universities and Indigenous communities from across Canada to create meaningful and lasting institutional change in the higher education sector to advance reconciliation. Working with the host university, Universities Canada plays a national coordinating role in the annual event and supports follow-up.
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.
“The organizers of this year’s forum did an outstanding job of bringing together diverse voices and perspectives to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and to advance reconciliation through education.”
– Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada
“As the host university for this year’s Building Reconciliation Forum it’s been our honour to have brought together nearly 250 thought leaders from universities, Indigenous governing bodies and communities, and federal and regional governments. These discussions have deepened our commitment to collaborate to make a positive difference for Indigenous students and communities.”
– Jamie Cassels, president of the University of Victoria
“We are honoured to be partnering with four northern institutions who represent a unique coast to coast leadership collaboration for the planning of the fifth national Building Reconciliation Forum. While the gathering will be hosted here in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, each partner on the planning committee brings tremendous strength and experience and we are excited to be working together to co-host the 2019 forum.”
– Asima Vezina, president of Algoma University
“In the spirit of UNBC’s Carrier motto – En cha huna – we respect the viewpoints of all others. We celebrate diversity and we strive to reflect and to foster the rich culture of northern B.C. and its peoples. “Post-secondary institutions can be meaningful partners with regards to conversations and actions toward Truth and Reconciliation.”
– Dr. Daniel Weeks, president of the University of Northern British Columbia