A statement from U of S President Peter Stoicheff on the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report released Dec. 15, 2015
Today, after six years of research and often emotional information gathering, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report, one of the most important documents in Canada’s history.
Now that the final report is out documenting the painful legacy of residential schools in Canada, the real work of reconciliation begins. It is imperative that we as Canadian universities honour the important work of the TRC by expanding public dialogue on reconciliation and addressing the TRC’s calls to action for post-secondary education.
This final report comes on the heels of the TRC’s summary report, released this past June and outlining 94 calls to action, some specifically directed to educational institutions. As TRC Commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair stated, the truth won’t bring reconciliation without education. Universities across Canada necessarily play an important role in reconciliation and the University of Saskatchewan, working with Universities Canada, will be a leader in this regard.
The U of S took a first step in November, when we hosted a national forum for post-secondary leaders to discuss how universities can move forward with the TRC calls to action. Nearly 200 people—including First Nations and Métis leaders, presidents of post-secondary institutions, and Aboriginal scholars and students—attended the forum.
The forum opened a respectful dialogue on how we can work together to advance the goals of the calls to action. One outcome of the forum was that the U of S, together with the 24 heads of all Saskatchewan post-secondary institutions, announced a province-wide commitment to work together to close the education gap for Aboriginal people.
We are committed to strengthening our efforts across the institution to ensure the success of our Aboriginal faculty, students and staff. In the coming year, there will be a number of campus events to engage faculty, staff and students in this process.
As part of our university’s plans to support indigenous education and reconciliation, we are committed to partnering with the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation which will house the commission’s archives—a national resource for indigenous research and education.
As president, and on behalf of the U of S, I am committed to walking the path with Aboriginal peoples toward reconciliation and working collaboratively with many others to ensure the U of S is a place where Aboriginal students, staff and faculty feel welcome and excel on our campus.
In this regard, I am pleased to announce today that the official opening of the Gordon Oakes Redbear Student Centre, an inclusive, intercultural gathering place for the entire campus, will take place on Feb. 3. This building is a demonstration of the university’s ongoing commitment to Aboriginal engagement and student success.