September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This statutory holiday, also known as Orange Shirt Day, was established to recognise the lives lost and the survivors of residential schools across so-called Canada.
Colonialism continues to permeate many of our institutions. This includes our education and other institutional systems, including lack of housing, the “justice” system, healthcare, the environmental sector, and access to clean drinking water and food security.
As students who work and study at an educational institution, the UVSS Board of Directors acknowledges the connection our education system has to places of violence that claim to be ‘schools.’
The UVSS occupies space in the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria, which is situated on the unceded, unsurrendered, and stolen territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples.
Thus, we encourage you to always consider the land you are on, including the deep connections and stewardship to the land that Indigenous people continue to have and do.
What are your obligations as a settler, newcomer, guest, or Indigenous person? What do we owe each other in the ongoing context of settler-colonialism, and what actions can we take and support while seeking reconciliation?
These are questions we ask you to reflect on today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your time here on these territories.
To Indigenous students, faculty, and community: We see you, honour you, and have our solidarity.
For students unfamiliar with local Indigenous protocols, we suggest you visit the First People’s House.
As follows are four of the protocols posted within:
(lək̓ʷəŋən – top / SENĆOŦEN – bottom)
héʔəkʷ al tθə čəléŋən ɫtə
HÁEQ ȽTE OL TŦE ĆELÁṈEN ȽTE
Remember our ancestors/birthright
nués ən əyʔ šqʷéləkʷəns
ÁMEḴT TŦEN ÍY, ŚḰÁLEȻEN
Bring in your good feelings
lét sxʷélə ə tθə məkʷ əné səʔ sčéys
TU LÁTES MEQ EN SĆȺ SE
Be prepared for all work to come
For all students, here is a non-exhaustive list of resources on decolonisation, land back, local peoples & histories, and how you can get involved:
- Being Here & Being Together – list of resources
- Beyond 94: this is an interactive website that outlines the 94 calls to action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report published in June 2015.
- You can find the full Truth and Reconciliation Report and Calls to Action here: www.trc.ca
- Here are some calls to action from this report that relate to post-secondary education:
7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.
28. We call upon law schools in Canada to require all law students to take a course in Aboriginal people and the law.
62. We call upon the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal Peoples and educators to:
ii) Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.
65. We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal Peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.
You can learn more about the local nations whose land on which we live, work, and play by taking a look at their websites:
W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council: https://wsanec.com/
- Tsartlip First Nation (W̱JOȽEȽP): https://tsartlip.com/
- Tsawout (SȾÁ,UTW̱): https://tsawout.ca/
- Pauquachin (BOḰEĆEN): https://www.pauquachin.ca/
- Tseycum (W̱SÍḴEM): http://www.tseycum.ca/
- Songhees Nation: https://www.songheesnation.ca/
- Esquimalt Nation: https://www.esquimaltnation.ca/
The SUB will be closed on September 30th, 2022 and will reopen on October 1st.