YukonU marks Truth and Reconciliation Day with week of events

TRC merchandise

WHITEHORSE, YT—Yukon University is joining universities and colleges across Canada in cancelling classes and closing campus services on Thursday, September 30, in honour of National Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day.

“The confirmation of unmarked graves at former residential schools this year weighs heavily on us. To achieve truth and reconciliation, it is vital we invest time this week learning more deeply about the impact of residential schools on Indigenous people and our shared history,” said Dr. Lesley Brown, president and vice chancellor, Yukon University.

“All Canadians should have the same understanding of history and its impacts if we are to understand each other. It's not about placing blame or dredging up past wrongs. We have to have a shared history to move forward together,” said Chùsi Robin Bradasch, associate vice president Indigenous Engagement and Partnerships.

The university is holding several events September 27 to 29 to provide greater context and awareness around the solemn, new federal statutory holiday for students and employees.

Throughout the week there will be an interactive reconcili-action display at Ayamdigut campus in Whitehorse and a Truth and Reconciliation Challenge featuring activities such as finding the traditional territories of your birthplace, exploring the origin of orange shirt day, and sharing, in a word or two, what reconciliation means to you, where students and employees can compete for prizes.

On Tuesday, September 28, at 12:00 p.m., there will be an online discussion with Elder and educator Vera C. Tourangeau, author of the book, Miss, it hurts, which speaks of intergenerational impacts of the Indian Residential School System and is a cry to help heal the hurt of children and families suffering from the legacy of colonization. Tourangeau teaches at Peepeekisis Pesakastew School in Balcarres, Saskatchewan and in 2012 received the Distinguished Humanitarian and Community Service Alumni Crowning Achievement Award from the University of Regina.

On Wednesday, September 29, at 12:00 p.m., three films will be screened in the Innovation Commons on the topics of Indigenous history, treaty rights, resilience and First Nations activism in Canada.

Those on campus Wednesday, September 29, are encouraged to wear an orange shirt to honour the survivors of residential school and remember those that did not return home. The university will observe a moment of silence at 2:15 p.m. that day along with a prayer song led by Viola Papequash. At Ayamdigut campus the four flags that can be lowered will be at half-mast all week in honour of the day, the Indigenous children who died, those who survived and their families.

Orange t-shirts, masks and copies of Miss, it hurts are available for purchase at the Campus Store along with free copies of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action. Throughout September, several beading tutorials have been held at Ayamdigut campus for students and employees wishing to bead an orange t-shirt pin.

YukonU encourages students, faculty and staff to actively participate in TRC Day events taking place in their community on September 30.