To mark the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Trent University has unveiled new installations paying tribute to the importance of the original treaties pertaining to the land upon which our two campuses are built, and honouring the original signatories of the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg.
“For more than 50 years, Trent has been committed to providing education in Indigenous history, traditions, cultures, and Indigenous knowledges for students and the broader community,” says Julie Davis, vice-president of External Relations and Development at Trent University. “As we honour Truth and Reconciliation Day, recognizing the local treaties and the Michi Saagiig people is foundational.”
On the Peterborough campus outside of Bata Library, the University unveiled three limestone boulders bearing the symbols of the dodem (clan totems) carvings of the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig signatories as well as a statement identifying the Symons Campus lands as being situated on Michi Saagiig traditional territory. At Trent University Durham GTA, a new Treaty Wall has been installed in the front atrium of the campus featuring original signatory documents and a pre-confederation treaty map. Both installations will help educate the community that Trent sits on land featuring Williams Treaty signatories.
Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, director of the First Peoples House of Learning, Dr. Scott Henderson, dean and head of Trent University Durham GTA, and Anne Taylor; Trent Elder & Traditional Knowledge Keeper Council member, and language coordinator for Curve Lake First Nation; were present at the unveiling of the Treaty Wall at Trent Durham.
“Curve Lake First Nation and Trent University have a gold-standard relationship,” says Chief Emily Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation. “Trent University prioritizes hearing the teachings of our Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers and ensuring the teachings are respected. We are very pleased to see these installations, developed in a true partnership, come to life. The meaningful acknowledgment of our ancestral lands and the treaty in which Trent University is situated will raise awareness in all who pass through Trent University.”
On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Trent University honours the land upon which it is built and the land’s traditional occupants, while celebrating the imaginations of Indigenous peoples, their survival throughout the centuries, their knowledge developed over generations, and their strength to endure.
“Here at Trent, on this very important day, as we come together to remember and honour all those who were forced into the Indian residential schools, we are committing ourselves as an institution to engage in the process of reconciliation,” says Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, director of the First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University. “As a small but important first step we must acknowledge the truth of our shared history and these installations were designed to educate all those who study, work, or visit our campuses. We give these places of honour to the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg, the original signatories of Treaty 20 and Williams Treaty, as a sign of respect and our commitment to do better and to work together in true partnership as the original treaties intended.”
The unveilings are just one way the University is marking the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As a leader in Indigenous education, the University has created a new webpage to advance the goals of education, reflection and action, and is sharing ways our communities can engage meaningfully in reconciliation and honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, including:
- Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports – both the Calls to Action and the testimony of residential school survivors
- Review the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives and Collections
- Offer gratitude through a land acknowledgment
- Become knowledgeable about the local Michi Saagiig First Nations and their protocols
- Watch and learn from elders the importance of building relationships with Indigenous People and the protocol of tobacco offerings as gift giving for knowledge sharing
- Learn about the lands on which Trent is situated
- Support Indigenous businesses, authors and artists
- Fundraise for organizations supporting residential school survivors and their families
- Share calls to action with your whole family utilizing the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada’s Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Wear an orange shirt to show support
Visit trentu.ca/truthandreconciliation to learn more.
Innovation in Indigenous Education at Trent University
With deep roots in reconciliation, Trent University incorporates the teachings and perspectives of Elders and cultural leaders into our academic experiences, extracurricular programming and campus life. Trent’s groundbreaking leadership in Indigenous Studies dates back over 50 years – to our beginnings, when we became the first university in Canada (and only the second in North America) to establish an academic department dedicated to the study of Indigenous peoples and knowledges.
The Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, as well as University’s Wenjack Theatre, are named for Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy who ran away from a the Ceilia Jeffrey Residential School from Kenora, and was headed home when he died of exposure on the railway tracks near Redditt, Ontario. This is an homage to his flight to safety, and the safe space created for Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and communities at Trent. Within the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies we think differently, and inspire our students to do the same.
About Trent University
Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.
For more information contact:
Cara Walsh, Communications & Media Relations Officer, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x6240 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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