215 Indigenous children
Last week’s discovery of the undocumented remains of 215 Indigenous children at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia is a painful reminder of the policy of assimilation that operated in Canada for more than 100 years and the cultural genocide that devastated Indigenous communities, families, and lives. We must all ensure this tragedy is not repeated or forgotten.
Document and acknowledge the facts.
- Over 130 government-funded, church-run residential schools were established across the country with the goal of removing and isolating children from the influence of their homes, families, and traditions, and assimilating them into the dominant culture. The schools operated for more than 100 years from the 1870s to 1996 – only 25 years ago.
- Some 150,000 Indigenous children were removed and separated from their families and communities in what Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a “systematic and concerted effort to extinguish their culture, language, and spirit”.
- Not only were the children stripped of their culture, heritage, and language, many suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and even death at the hands of residential school staff and teachers.
- Last week’s discovery is heartbreaking, and Indigenous experts warn that it likely represents just a small portion of the thousands more who died while the schools were in operation.
The trauma is intergenerational and ongoing, and education is necessary to end the cycle. The legacy of residential schools is far reaching and continues to affect Indigenous people to this day in many ways, including: Occurrences of mental health issues and suicide are consistently higher; Indigenous people are still underrepresented in Canada’s labour market; and have lower educational attainment rates than non-Indigenous Canadians.
- Seven of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action relate directly to education, including eliminating educational and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, increasing available funding, and developing culturally appropriate and relevant programming.
- The report also calls upon the federal government to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the framework for reconciliation. The declaration affirms the collective and individual rights of Indigenous people, including self-determination and self-government; equality and non-discrimination; land, territories, and resources; and education.
- Our Indigenous Education Protocol is founded on seven principles to support reconciliation, including recognition in governance structures, understanding and reciprocity, Indigenous-centred holistic services and learning environments, and accountability. Over 65 institutions have signed the Protocol.
Educate Canadians about the legacy of the residential school system.
- Take advantage of teaching resources and educational programming from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to raise awareness of the history and creation of the residential school system, and its ongoing legacy.
- For many, the trauma is ongoing: the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line provides 24-hour support for former students and those affected, including emotional and crisis-referral services. Call 1-866-925-4419.
Watch “Where Indigenous education and sustainability intersect”!
Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada means establishing a road map for lasting reconciliation, and education is often at the centre. For colleges and institutes, that means finding a balance between culturally relevant and accessible programming for Indigenous populations and strategies that enrich mainstream learning models with traditional knowledge. But in many ways, education is also about the long-term sustainability of Indigenous communities.
If sustainability means leaving no one behind, how can we ensure equitable access to post-secondary education for Indigenous populations remains top of mind? How can traditional knowledge be scaled to influence sustainable policy and in what ways must our educational models be changed?
In this episode of Perspectives LIVE, our expert guests will explore where and how Indigenous education and sustainability intersect. Register for free.
LIVE launch! Accelerate, energize, and mobilize sustainability
Sustainability is one of the most important challenges and biggest economic opportunities of our age, and Canada’s colleges and institutes have a long history of showing us how growing the economy and protecting the environment can – and do – go hand in hand.
But how can we do even more to support Canada’s climate action commitments and a net-zero economy?
Be among the first to hear our exciting news! Join us for the LIVE launch of two new initiatives that will build on the demonstrated expertise and accelerate the contributions of colleges and institutes in the sustainability space. Together, we are leading the way to a net-zero carbon future!
We’ve been busy!
Far from business as usual, this past year was filled with many challenges and many opportunities. We’re compiling the key facts and figures in our Annual Report for 2020-2021, which will be available online in the coming weeks. Join us to mark the end of a truly unique year and to look toward the future!
Participate in our virtual Annual General Meeting connecting members online from coast to coast to coast! Mark your calendar for Tuesday, June 22 at 12:00 pm EDT and contact Amélie Cantin for more information. We hope to see you there!
Like last year, we will also be taking time to present a college and institute president with this year’s Distinguished Service Award and to recognize one of our partner organizations with the Award for Outstanding Partner. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate your colleagues!
Help get Canadians back together, Faster!
Join Faster, together: a coalition of volunteers, organizations, businesses, and individuals working together to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and help speed pandemic recovery so we can get Canadians back together, faster. We signed up!
Use the promotional materials: digital ads, newsletter banners, social media assets, photos, and videos are in French and in English all with one common goal: bringing us back together. Download as many as you need!
Did you know that Centennial College recently shared a report on its 15-year journey to inclusive internationalization? The report profiles Centennial’s incredible transformation from a near-bankrupt college in Toronto to an international and inclusive institution preparing all its learners to become global professionals, global entrepreneurs, and global citizens ready to transform the uncertain world of tomorrow!
Stay safe and healthy on campus. Download the COVID Alert app.
Visit Wellness Together Canada for free online mental health and substance use support.
Apply for a scholarship in TVET from the Horatio Alger Association of Canada. Deadline: June 30.
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