Take time to reflect and work toward kwayskahsatsowin on Sept. 30
Content warning: This article references the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Indian residential schools, and Orange Shirt Day.
Athabasca University (AU) is committed to kwayskahsatsowin, or conciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This means setting things right, repairing what’s broken and bringing it back into harmony and balance.
It’s an important distinction from “reconciliation,” which means the restoration of friendly relations. Through Nukskahtowin (meeting place), AU aims to create a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples and ensure we are inclusive of Indigenous knowledge, values, and worldviews. This is an important consideration in everything we do—at all times of the year—but it’s particularly top of mind now.
The Government of Canada declared Sept. 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day was chosen to recognize and commemorate the tragic history of residential schools and their legacy, and to honour the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action No. 80:
“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.”
Sept. 30 was chosen as it coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a day intended to create a meaningful discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind. The story behind the significance of the colour orange is attributed to Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, and has come to symbolize her loss: family, self-esteem, culture, and all things Indigenous to her. We encourage our community members to show their support and wear orange on that day. We also encourage our community to educate ourselves on what it means to be Indigenous in the land known as Canada and to acknowledge what was lost.
It’s important for all members of our community to remember and reflect on the lives lost to the residential school system and to acknowledge the multi-generational impact on the survivors and their families.
Athabasca University supports and respects our Indigenous learners, alumni, team members, and community members and will be closed on Sept. 30 to allow time for reflection and commemoration of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Teachings and resources
Not sure where to get started? Check out these teachings and resources.
Truth and Reconciliation Week Sept. 27 – Oct. 1 (virtual event)
If you need support, help is available.
The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.