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 26-30

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 26. 

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 local organizations supporting survivors and their families. 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 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation, a special report from the Yellowhead Institute.


Ways to Get Involved

On Campus

September 26; 1-3 pm | Zoom
Virtual Tour of the Former Mohawk Residential School
Registration Required

 

September 27; 5:30-7 pm | Indigenous Student Centre
Sharing Circle: Truth and Reconciliation
For First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students

 

September 28; 6:30-8:30 pm | Art Gallery of Guelph
Walk & Talk: Curatorial Tour of Qautamaat
Explore the exhibition Qautamaat with curator Taqralik Partridge and writer Emily Henderson as they offer a talk and tour highlighting the stories, ideas, and practices associated with the “Inuit everyday” that informs the work of over 80 artists and makers on view. 

 

September 29; 10-11 am |  Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre Room 3213
Sport and Reconciliation
Join U of G student athlete alumna, Quincy Sickle-Jarvis and Scott McRoberts,  Director of Athletics as they discuss sport and reconciliation, TRC recommendations 87-91 and high-performance pathways to the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG).   
Registration Required

 

September 29; 1-2:30 pm | Indigenous Student Centre
Métis 101 with Alicia Hamilton
Join Métis Knowledge Holder Alicia Hamilton for an interactive in-person workshop covering the ethnogenesis of the Métis, their culture and their traditions.   

 

September 30; 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 

 

September 30; 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.

 

September 30; 11:00-11:45 | Summerlee Science Complex (Main Doors)
Truth and Reconciliation Reflection Ceremony
This ceremony will offer a safe place to reflect on the transgenerational impacts of the Indian residential school system, honouring those Indigenous children that died, the survivors, and their families. More details

 

Ongoing
Truth & Reconciliation Day 2022: Remembering the Children
Learn more as you explore the U of G Library's curated subcollection, Truth & Reconciliation Day 2022: Remembering the Children, featuring works by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis authors.  

 

Ongoing
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. 

 
Event Planning

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 indigenous@uoguelph.ca.

  • 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

 

In Guelph

September 30; 12-4 pm | Royal City Park 
Sacred Fire

Community Firekeepers will light a Sacred Fire in honour of Orange Shirt Day at the Sacred Fire in Royal City Park.

  • 12-2 pm - Indigenous allies are welcome to share their prayers and reflections at the Sacred Fire
  • 2:30-4 pm - Indigenous community is invited to join their kin in circle to share in hope and healing with song and drumming. SOAHAC (Southwestern Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre) is supporting this circle. Hand drums will be available for use.

 

September 30; 7-8:30 pm | Guelph Museums 
Conversations in Pipigwan Flute with Rene Meshake
Participate in the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with Ojibwe multidisciplinary artist and residential school survivor Rene Meshake. A presentation of Anishinaabe storytelling, poetry, music, and song.
Registration Required. More Information. 

  


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 30 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

Good2Talk

Call 1-866-925-5454 or text “UofG” to 686868

Here 24/7

Call 1-844-437-3247 for crisis services

Keep.meSAFE for International Students

Connect at wellness.uoguelph.ca/keep.meSAFE

Employee Assistance Program

Call 1-800-265-8310

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


Learn More

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.