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Ottawa Citizen: The role of Canada’s universities in reconciliation

June 8, 2015 — 

Last week University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard attended the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation. Barnard wrote an editorial that was published in the Ottawa Citizen about the important role of universities in reconciliation:

Reconciliation requires societal change. Therefore, educating all students about the history and legacy of residential schools is crucial. Gaining this understanding is particularly significant in professional programs such as law, medicine, nursing, social work and education, where understanding the full and deep impacts that residential schools have had on survivors and their families is key to those professional approaches, and key to engaging respectfully with members of the indigenous community.

We begin to decolonize our universities by integrating indigenous knowledge, perspectives and worldviews into curricula, programs and services, and providing relevant training for those teaching and interacting with our students. When understanding of First Nation, Métis and other indigenous cultures is woven through all of our campuses, then real change will occur not only within the institution, but within the many areas of society that we reach.

Universities fundamentally influence think tanks and community dialogues that shape policy development. When we see wrongs and untruths, we must fight against them; where there are people facing social injustices, we must stand up for them; and where there is racism, we must challenge it.

Read the full editorial in the Ottawa Citizen.

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