Truth and Reconciliation
Learning the truth about the effects of colonization and the residential school system and engaging in reconciliation is a shared responsibility. As a place of higher learning, we have an obligation to educate on this tragic reality of Canada’s history and to work toward addressing the ongoing colonial legacy of residential schools.
This page is a starting point for those interested in learning more and actively engaging in Truth and Reconciliation Week, Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Truth and Reconciliation Week - September 25-30, 2023
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) established Truth and Reconciliation Week and encourages us to continue the conversations about Every Child Matters and the residential school system while honouring Survivors and their families. The NCTR offers an educational program for grades 1-12 including educational guides and virtual events. The theme for this year is Remembering the Children.
To commemorate the week, U of G will be raising the Survivors' Flag in front of the University Centre and at Champions Corner, lighting Johnston Hall in orange and lowering the flags on September 30.
Orange Shirt Day | Every Child Matters - September 30
Started in 2013, in Williams Lake, British Columbia, Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School commemoration and reunion events. Phyllis Webstad shared the memory of her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, that was taken from her on her first day at the school.
The St. Joseph Mission Residential School, which was open from 1891-1981, was one of 130 residential schools in Canada. Now the day honours the Survivors, those who didn't make it and the families that have been impacted by residential schools.
The Orange Shirt Society encourages and supports the commemoration of Orange Shirt Day.
Orange shirts will be on sale at the U of G Bookstore the week of September 25.
Indigenous Initiatives, the Indigenous Student Centre and the Bookstore have collaborated to bring a unique orange shirt to campus in acknowledgement of Orange Shirt Day. $5 from the sale of each shirt will be donated to the Survivor Secretariat, an organization that organizes and supports efforts to uncover, document and share the truth about what happened at the Mohawk Institute during its 140+ years of operation.
The design was created by Kaitlin Gallant, Indigenous graphic designer, illustrator and beadwork artist.
In honour of Residential School Survivors and the children who never returned home, the shirt depicts a Forget-Me-Not flower surrounded by Sage and Sweetgrass. Sweetgrass braids remind us of our strength when we come together, and sage supports our healing.
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - September 30
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created in 2021 as a federal statutory holiday in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action # 80 which called for a day of commemoration.
We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
The day serves to honour the Survivors of residential school and the children who never returned home, as well as their families and communities.
To learn more about the progress on the Calls to Action visit Indigenous Watchdog’s website or read Calls to Action Accountability: A 2022 Status Update on Reconciliation, a special report from the Yellowhead Institute.
Ways to Get Involved
Monday, September 25 - Friday, September 29; Daily from 1:30 - 2:20 EDT
Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023 Public Lunch and Learns
Join the NCTR for a series of virtual lunch and learn sessions throughout Truth and Reconciliation Week to facilitate learning for Canadians on topics related to Truth and Reconciliation. These sessions will feature a range of speakers and will provide audience members with the opportunity to ask questions and engage in further conversations. Sign up for one or all. Registration required.
Monday, September 25; 12:30 - 2 pm | Zoom
Virtual Tour of the Former Mohawk Institute
Join the Indigenous Student Centre on Monday, September 25th to participate in a virtual tour facilitated by the Woodland Cultural Centre. Follow Lorrie Gallant, as she gives a tour of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School. Open to all students, staff and faculty. 30 spots available. Should all the spots be filled there will be a waitlist. The deadline to register is Friday, September 22 at 2:00 p.m. Registration required. More information is available at gryphlife.uoguelph.ca. Registrants will receive the Zoom link on Monday, September 25 ahead of the event.
Tuesday, September 26; 11 am - 12 pm | University Centre 430
Mawadisidiwag | They Visit Each Other
Reconciliation is all about relationships. This ‘tea and talk’ session is an opportunity to share, explore and learn together. Participants are invited to bring forward topics and questions to ignite conversations. This session will be hosted by Cara Wehkamp, AVP (Indigenous Initiatives) and is open to all students, staff and faculty at the University of Guelph.
Thursday, September 28; 6 - 8 pm | Gryphon Lounge 131 (Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre)
'Indian Horse' Film Screening
Join the Department of Athletics and Recreation for a film screening of ‘Indian Horse,’ followed by a group discussion. No advance registration required. Learn more about the film at www.indianhorse.ca. This event is open to everyone. Please reach out to Prav at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Friday, September 29; 9 am - 4 pm | Indigenous Student Centre
Drop-In Support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Students
Join the Indigenous Student Centre community for support and a place to relax
Friday, September 29; 9:40 am | Maada'oonidiwag (Coming together) in the Art Gallery of Guelph Sculpture Park
Walk for Reconciliation
Come together at Maada'oonidiwag and walk to Brainion Plaza. The sculpture is located on the lawn north of the Art Gallery of Guelph building. Individuals are encouraged to join us along the route - crossing at College Avenue and Gordon Street, across Johnston Green, along the Library and down WInegard Walk to Branion Plaza to arrive for the Refections at 10 am.
Friday, September 29; 10 - 10:30 am | Branion Plaza
Reflections on Truth and Reconciliation
Gather with the campus community to honour survivors, the children who never returned home and their families and communities. Hear words of truth from the experiences of survivors and reflections on reconciliation. Those unable to attend are encouraged to take a moment for personal reflection throughout their day.
Friday, September 29; 2 - 4 pm | Summerlee Science Complex, Room 1511
Indigenous Advocacy Talk with Genievieve Borg
Join the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences National Truth and Reconciliation Day Presentation and Discussion with Genievieve Borg, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Chemistry. Registration required.
On Saturday, September 30, we encourage everyone to take part in events and commemorations locally and online.
Saturday, September 30; 10:30 am - 1 pm | Royal City Park - Sacred Fire
Orange Shirt Day Sacred Fire
Community Firekeepers will light a Sacred Fire at the Royal City Park fire site on Water Street to honour missing children and survivors of Residential School and intergenerational trauma.
10:30 - 11:30 am - All community members are invited to offer prayers to the Sacred Fire
12 - 1 pm - Indigenous community members are invited to gather with kin to share in hope and healing
Saturday, September 30; 1-3 pm | Guelph Civic Museum
Film Screening: The Nature of Healing
The Nature of Healing is the spoken truth of seven Survivors of Mohawk Institute, Canada’s first and longest-running Indian residential school. From victim to survivor to activist, this is a story of resistance, resilience, and a healing path. Visit Guelph Museums for more information and to register.
Saturday, September 30 | Broadcast live from Parliament Hill - Check your local listings
Remembering The Children: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2023
A live national broadcast will commemorate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Join NCTR in person or watch online to memorialize the children lost to the residential school system and honour Survivors and their families. Learning and commemorating the truth of our history from First Nations, and Inuit and Métis knowledge keepers is an important part of the path to reconciliation.
National Truth & Reconciliation Week 2023: Honouring Survivors
Honouring Survivors is a collection curated by the University of Guelph Library.
Mtigwaaki Trail in the U of G Arboretum
Reflect as you take a walk on the Mtigwaaki Trail to engage with the land and learn from interpretive signs that explore the understanding of the forest from an Anishinabek perspective and call us to act on how we can better treat Mother Earth.
Planning an event?
We encourage campus partners to plan events and actions aimed at raising awareness and educating on the ongoing legacy of colonization and the effects of the residential school system. Due to the sensitive nature of the topics surrounding residential schools, please give thought to the following considerations. Events can be added to this list by emailing the details to email@example.com.
- Recognize that the day will be difficult for many Indigenous peoples
- For example, orange shirts are worn as an act of solidarity however when seen repeatedly they can also become overwhelming
- Plan ahead as this is a busy time which puts a strain on resources and be considerate of the timing of local Indigenous led events
- Uplift and respect Indigenous voices while not placing undue burden on First Nations, Inuit and Métis students, staff, faculty and community members
- It is important to not expect the Indigenous community to assume the work of reconciliation
- Indigenous peoples may be involved with planning events and actions within their own communities
- There is an abundance of diverse resources available in print, video and audio formats such as those shared on the Legacy of Hope of Foundation’s website or in the CBC Short Doc, Inendi
- If you do invite Indigenous knowledge holders and community members, be sure to inform yourself about protocols to be followed, which are specific to different cultural groups and communities
- Determine the wellness and support needs required during the planning, the event and afterwards
- Prioritize the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Survivors and their families, students, staff and faculty
- Remember accessibility
- Consider what services are already available and whether they need to be enhanced to respond to a potential increased need
- Locate quiet and private space that can be used for support
- Recognize individuals’ different comfort levels with identifying as someone impacted by residential school, sharing their and their families' experiences, speaking publicly and engaging in person or online and respect their boundaries
- Be mindful to not uphold a deficit perspective of Indigenous peoples or centre the perpetrators of colonial harms
Support for Indigenous Students, Staff and Faculty
Indigenous Student Centre
Indigenous Student Advisor
Ally Stoett is available for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students. Book an appointment with Ally.
Drop In Support for Indigenous Students
Drop in on September 29 from 9 am – 4 pm at the Indigenous Student Centre in the Federal Building at 620 Gordon Street.
Student Counselling Services
Call 519-824-4120 ext. 53244 to book an appointment
Student Support Network
Find more information at wellness.uoguelph.ca/ssn
Call 1-866-925-5454 or text “UofG” to 686868
Call 1-844-437-3247 for crisis services
Keep.meSAFE for International Students
Connect at wellness.uoguelph.ca/keep.meSAFE
Employee and Family Assistance Program
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line
24-hour crisis support for Survivors and their families, call 1-866-925-4419
Hope for Wellness
For immediate emotional support for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, call 1-855-242-3310, or by online chat at hopeforwellness.ca
- Exploring Indigenous Narratives and Worldviews - U of G’s Library Collection
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Orange Shirt Society
- Survivors’ Secretariat
- Woodland Cultural Centre
- Legacy of Hope Foundation
U of G’s Commitments
Learn more about U of G's commitments to reconciliation, indigenization and decolonization in Bi-Naagwad | It Comes Into View, U of G's Indigenous Initiatives Strategy.