WELLS, BOURGEOIS: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation an important opportunity for Canadians

As Brock University marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we all take a moment to express our respect and friendship for the First Nations, Métis and Inuit members of the Brock community, and for members of Indigenous communities in the Niagara region and beyond.

It is fitting that the federal government has declared Thursday, Sept. 30 a national day for remembering the important work done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, culminating six years ago in a report with 94 Calls to Action. Those Calls cover a broad range of issues, including child welfare, language revitalization, health care, legal reform and commemoration of the historical injustices suffered by Indigenous people under colonization.

Over the past year, we’ve seen the heartbreaking rediscovery of children lost during the residential school era, revelations that have renewed the pain of families who have lived with those tragic losses for generations, in some cases. Like many Canadians, we make time on Sept. 30 to remember those lost children and to reflect on the shameful legacy of the past. Together with post-secondary institutions across the country, Brock is lowering its flags Thursday in honour of those who lost their lives at residential schools, as well as those who survived the traumatic experience.

This National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, however, is also an opportunity to think about how we can all contribute to a more positive future for the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. One of the most notable sections of the Calls to Action is devoted to education, which — in the contemporary era — serves as a counterbalance to the dark history of the residential schools. Brock University is putting in place new programs and services to improve access to post-secondary education for Indigenous students and to support them throughout their university years, leading to higher recruitment, retention and graduation rates.

Under the leadership of our Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement, Dr. Robyn Bourgeois, Brock is also working to hire more Indigenous faculty and staff, to expand academic programming with an Indigenous focus, and to support research and community engagement.

We are fortunate to have both the Aboriginal Education Council and the Two Row Council to provide guidance and support for Brock’s strategic priorities around equity, inclusivity, Indigenization and decolonization, which are articulated in our Institutional Strategic Plan.

Let’s take this first national day of remembrance to recommit to those priorities, and to look for new ways to work together to demonstrate friendship and respect for all Indigenous people, the true spirit of reconciliation.




Professor Lynn Wells

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

Provost and Vice-President, Academic


Professor Robyn Bourgeois

Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement

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