QHS and Queen’s set to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, held every Sept. 30, is a moment to reflect on the legacy of Canada’s residential school system and its impacts on Indigenous peoples and communities.
From Sept. 25-30, the university is making space for campus community members to do so, with a series of planned educational, ceremonial, and collaborative activities open to all.
This includes a Queen’s Health Sciences event – "Climbing the Mountain towards Reconciliation"– a conversation with Dr. Sarah Funnell, Associate Dean, Indigenous Health, on Friday, Sept. 29 at 1pm in the School of Medicine Building (15 Arch St.) Room 132A. Anyone is welcome; participants can also attend virtually via Zoom.
An interactive Orange Shirt poster display, led by Indigenous medical learners, will be in in the School of Medicine atrium from September 27th until October 4th. Everyone is welcome to visit the display and contribute to an open conversation about what truth and reconciliation means to them. Reflection questions to prompt participants include 1. What actions or steps do you take to promote truth and reconciliation in your own life? 2. Why is truth and reconciliation important to you? 3. What do you wish more people knew about the impact of colonization and residential schools?
Across Queen’s, the scheduled activities open to all include screenings of films Beans and Indian Horse, raising of the Survivor’s Flag outside of Richardson Hall (Monday, Sept. 25), a sacred fire ceremony (Monday, Oct. 2), and an Indigenous art display. Faculties and units across campus are set to host their own activities and events as well. Visit the Office of Indigenous Initiative’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation webpage for a full list of activities, important dates and times, and information about how you can take part.
With the statutory day falling on a Saturday, all academic activity will be suspended the following Monday, Oct. 2, in observance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“At Queen's, we share a profound dedication to cultivating an inclusive society, to advancing reconciliation, and to seamlessly incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and being into the fabric and life of the university,” says Stephanie Simpson, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion). “The first step of any meaningful effort is understanding. I hope all of us will take some time in the days ahead to review the national TRC commission report, reflect on our own progress as a university, and commit to ongoing learning and action.”
Solidarity and community building
The federal government formalized the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, building on a long-standing grassroots action called Orange Shirt Day – an annual honouring of residential school survivors held every Sept. 30, during which supporters would wear orange shirts in tribute and support.
This year, together with the student-led Tricolour Outlet and local Cree artist Jaylene Cardinal, Queen’s has created special orange t-shirts that will be available on campus for purchase. A portion of all sales will be donated to the Orange Shirt Society, an Indigenous-led program that supports survivors and raises awareness of the history of residential schools and their inter-generational effects on Indigenous communities.
Shirts are available for sale now until Oct. 2 at the Tricolour Outlet and online, as well as at pop-ups outside Douglas Library at University and Union (Sept. 19-21) and the Queen's Centre (Sept. 27-29).
“Wearing or displaying orange during the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and beyond, is a way for people to express support and care for residential school survivors, their families, and their communities,” says Deanna Fialho, Director of the Yellow House Student Centre for Equity & Inclusion, co-chair of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Working Group. “We’re glad to be able to support important charitable work with beautiful, custom orange shirts, and look forward to strengthening our campus community bonds through joint action and care.”
The working group includes members from the Stauffer Library staff team, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, and the Office of the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration).
Learning about and reflecting on the legacy of residential schools may trigger difficult emotions. Queen’s urges all campus community members to be mindful and supportive of one another, and to seek support services the university has available through Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Student Wellness Services, and the Employee and Family Assistance Program.