National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On September 30, the University of Lethbridge will recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day provides members of our community time and space to reflect on the multigenerational impacts of residential schools.

Territorial Acknowledgement

Our University’s Blackfoot name is Iniskim, meaning Sacred Buffalo Stone, and was gifted to us by Elder Bruce Wolf Child in 2002. The University of Lethbridge acknowledges and deeply appreciates the Siksikaitsitapii peoples’ connection to their traditional territory. We, as people living and benefiting from Blackfoot Confederacy traditional territory, honour the traditions of people who have cared for this land.

The University of Lethbridge has long been at the forefront of creating opportunities to learn of and learn from Indigenous Peoples. Never has this been more important than it is now. The recent announcement by our federal government to mark September 30 as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is one to be embraced, for it is an opportunity to reflect upon a painful and unjust part of our Canadian history on the broadest of scales.

Truth and reconciliation are foundations upon which we can rebuild and restore relationships with Indigenous people, and more specifically the people of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Reconciliation cannot begin without first speaking the truth about Indian Residential Schools and owning our shared history and the legacy it has created. This is a difficult and necessary acknowledgment that requires learning an authenticated truth from Indigenous knowledge keepers, and unlearning myths and misinformation perpetuated to obfuscate the past.

The University of Lethbridge, as part of its commitment to build an inclusive, welcoming and supportive environment where all students, staff and faculty feel seen, heard and valued is presented with an opportunity to be a leader in writing a new story of authentic reconciliation.

This week of truth and reconciliation events is a call to action for each of us to participate and engage, to learn and unlearn and to take meaningful action. The journey to building an inclusive, equitable and decolonized campus for all is before us. This week presents opportunities to advance true reconciliation and healing between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people and we urge everyone to take advantage of the unique resources available.

If we are truly committed to building a better tomorrow, it starts with the actions we take today. Please consider donating to the Iikaisskini Student Initiatives Fund, which supports programming for Indigenous uLethbridge students. Let us make our actions meaningful and truly lead our community.

Learn more about how you can get involved. More details are shared on this website.

By honouring Indigenous residential school survivors, their families, and communities on National Truth and Reconciliation Day, some individuals may experience a series of reactions, including renewed trauma, grief and anger. There are resources available through the University, and within the community for students and employees to access support. These resources and supports are shared below.

 

Mike Mahon, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor
University of Lethbridge

Martha Mathurin Moe, BA MEd
Executive Director
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
University of Lethbridge

What is Orange Shirt Day?

Orange Shirt Day marks an important part of Canada’s history, but also a pivotal part of its future. Observed on September 30 each year, it marks the day that Indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed into residential school. It was a day to honour the students who didn’t return home.

Orange Shirt Day recognizes an important moment in history and will help determine our journey ahead toward reconciliation. It is a day for healing and remembering; and a day to listen, learn and honour the survivors and the ones who did not make it home.

Orange Shirt Day started in 2013 and was inspired by Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor, from the Canoe Creek Indian Band in British Columbia who attended the St. Joseph's Mission residential school, after sharing her story in an awareness campaign. Phyllis' emotional story begins with her first day attending residential school at six years old. She remembers the new orange shirt her grandmother bought her, which was abruptly taken and permanently replaced with a school uniform. Her story highlights loss and assimilation while in residential school and provides the symbolism of resiliency and reaffirmation of importance through the "Every Child Matters" orange t-shirt movement today.

The first step to honouring is acknowledging our past. We need to listen to the stories from our Indigenous knowledge keepers, learn and educate ourselves, and open spaces for conversations to support each other through this emotional time.

Truth and reconciliation starts with truth and leads to intentional meaningful action. Learn about our Indigenous communities. Talk about Indigenous history at home, at school and at work. Help build supportive, inclusive, and equitable spaces where everyone feels they belong. Volunteer and donate to initiatives that elevate the voices of our Indigenous communities. Call out racism and injustices when you see it occurring. 

The most important part of the process is understanding that you will make mistakes. What truly matters is apologizing authentically and making every effort to learn and unlearn, as you do your part to move towards reconciliation and healing.

 
The University of Lethbridge has partnered with the City of Lethbridge and has unveiled a t-shirt designed by a Blackfoot art studio student Chataya Holy Singer.

 

Join us in wearing your t-shirt to show your support for survivors and their families on Sept. 30. 

 

Make a donation to the Iikaisskini Student Initiatives Fund, which supports programming for Indigenous uLethbridge students. Give now

Faculty Friday | Dr. Inge Genee, linguist

Reflecting on our history and actively working on the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission cannot be a once a year event. We connected with someone who, as part …

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Undergraduate Research Profile: Alex Smith

In this undergraduate research profile, we highlight the work that Alexandra Smith is doing to research variation in the Blackfoot language.

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Undergraduate Research Profile: Megan Smith

In this undergraduate research profile, we highlight the work that Megan Smith is doing to research one of the TRC's Calls to Action.

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Manager of Iikaisskini, Lindi Shade (BA '06)

Lindi Shade (BA '06) is a member of Kainai-Blood Nation and the manager of Iikaisskini at the University of Lethbridge, where she works to support Indigenous students on their educational journey.

Read more

Get Support

By honouring Indigenous residential school survivors, their families, and communities on National Truth and Reconciliation Day, some individuals may experience a series of reactions, including renewed trauma, grief, and anger.  There are resources available through the University, and within the community for students and employees to access support.  

The following supports are available for Indigenous students and staff:

  • U of L Counselling Department, as an important mental health resource for our students. Wilma Spear Chief is an Indigenous Counsellor in Counselling. 
  • NIHB AB Region’s telephone: 1-800-232-7301 -Free Counselling for all Status Indigenous people.
  • IRS RHSP AB Region’s telephone: 1-888-495-6588. This is a great resource for anyone wishing to access mental health support for anyone who is directly/or indirectly impacted by the Indian Residential School

** Non-Insured Health Benefits will cover the cost for counselling.

Other community resources include:

Employees can access support through the University’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) managed by Homewood Health. For more information on recovery and coping strategies for dealing with a traumatic event, Homewood Health has put together some suggestions that can be found here. By contacting EFAP, employees can access confidential counselling services, and can be matched to a counsellor with expertise in Indigenous culture and/or the residential school system. 

For those wishing to access support through a more culturally traditional support, and wish to engage with Elders or Knowledge Keepers, they can contact Homewood Health with a self-identified Elder or Knowledge Keeper of their choosing. Homewood Health will provide the employee with an agreement to be completed and signed so that Homewood can arrange for an honorarium to be provided to that Elder or Knowledge Keeper in recognition of the support and wisdom provided. 

For more information, or to book a counselling session, Homewood Health can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phoning 1-800-663-1142.  All calls are completely confidential.