University of the Fraser Valley

National Aboriginal Day: a chance for reflection on culture and reconciliation

National Aboriginal Day: a chance for reflection on culture and reconciliation

Aboriginal day is Sunday, June 21

National Aboriginal Day was Sunday, June 21

Posted on behalf of Shirley Hardman, UFV Senior Advisor on Indigenous Affairs

National Aboriginal Day on Sunday, June 21 celebrates the unique heritage and diverse culture of indigenous people — it also presents an opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and what these outcomes mean at UFV and beyond.

In early June, the TRC published a report entitled “Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future.” In the report, the Chair Justice Murray Sinclair and Commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson conclude that “it is due to the courage and determination of former students — that this work was accomplished.”

The report also points out “[a]ll Canadians must now demonstrate the same level of courage and determination, as we commit to an ongoing process of reconciliation.” The commission also outlines a call for action, recommending Canadians try and understand the past and that education will help provide this understanding.

“Many strategies are needed to overcome and respond to the harmful legacy of residential schools, and education is key amongst these strategies,” said UFV Chancellor Gwen Point. “Education provides a gateway to understanding, knowledge, and eventual change in society. UFV will continue to endorse and lead Indigenization across our campuses as we strive to become a place of learning that recognizes, respects and includes an Indigenous worldview in all aspects of our day-to-day activities. I look forward to a promising future for all people living in a society that promotes and respects all nations and cultures.”

Shirley Hardman, Senior Advisor on Indigenous Affairs at UFV,  says, “This means some university instructors will experience a shift in attitude and it will be critical we have the requisite knowledge to pass on to students. This knowledge has not been a part of our own education, and in most cases not a part of our area of expertise. Leaders in many disciplines are not writing about it. So, the responsibility falls to us as individuals.”

More of Shirley Hardman’s reflections on the TRC report can be found on the UFV Indigenization page.