National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Dear members of the St. Andrew’s Hall community,
Many blessings to you as we near the end of the first month of this fall term. I hope that your time of study here at UBC is a wonderful journey of discovery as well as a deepening sense of your purpose in life and vocation in the world. One of the ways in which we are learning as a community here at St. Andrew’s Hall is in faithful steps towards reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbours. St. Andrew’s Hall is located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples.
Last year the Federal government designated September 30th as a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. In particular, when we reflect on Canada’s colonial history and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples, it is important for Canadians to recognize and repent for the Residential Schools program of the 19th and 20th century. Residential schools were established by the federal government and run by several Canadian Christian denominations. The program forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families, communities and culture while attempting to “Westernize” the children through the denegation of their Indigenous culture as well as horrific acts of physical and sexual abuse. The national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with its corresponding calls to action makes for sobering reading: https://nctr.ca
St. Andrew’s Hall, as a college of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, takes seriously the calls to action as well as our denomination’s own apology to Indigenous Canadians in 1994. The confession (apology) and related documents can be found here: https://presbyterian.ca/healing/
In support of this ongoing action of reconciliation, St. Andrew’s Hall will close on Friday, September 30th in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
I invite you to consider how you might spend Friday learning more about this ongoing act of reconciliation between settler and Indigenous people in Canada.
Here are some suggestions:
- Just steps from St. Andrew’s Hall is the national Indian Residential School and Dialogue Centre. The staff there are amazing and ready to welcome visitors: https://irshdc.ubc.ca I have learned a lot in my visits to the Centre.
- Take a walk down Centre Mall at UBC to reflect on the reconciliation pole: https://students.ubc.ca/ubclife/what-reconciliation-pole
- Participate in the Intergenerational march to commemorate Orange Shirt Day on campus beginning at 11 am: https://apsc.ubc.ca/event/2022/intergenerational-march-to-commemorate-orange-shirt-day
- Sit and read a fiction or non-fiction book exploring the impact of Residential Schools. I recommend Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians, winner of the 2022 Canada Reads award. It’s a challenging but meaningful exploration of the lives of students who end up in Vancouver after attending a Residential School.
On Thursday, you will see members of the SAH staff wearing Orange T-Shirts designed by First Nations (Treaty 1) artist Mike Alexander. While the offices will close on Friday in recognition of the day, as always if you are in need of immediate assistance please contact one of your three amazing ComCos.
Wishing you God’s continued blessing on your studies at UBC this fall term and a meaningful day of reflection on Friday.
Grace and peace,
Cover image by Mike Alexander