Dear campus community,
This year, for the first time, September 30 will be observed as a statutory holiday to commemorate the horrific legacy of residential schools in Canada.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation gives us time to reflect and raise awareness of and reflect on the tragedies experienced by Indigenous people because of the country's former residential school system.
Although the holiday applies only to federally regulated workplaces in Nova Scotia, Acadia University will honour it. The University is cancelling all classes and suspending non-essential services on Thursday, September 30, 2021. University employees entitled to statutory holidays will receive this day off. In future years, this day will be included in the academic calendar as a holiday.
Since 2013, September 30 has been Orange Shirt Day across Canada. It commemorates the experience of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, who created the day. Orange was the colour of her shirt on her first day attending residential school, and it was taken from her when she arrived.
The new holiday reflects one of the 94 calls to action of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which states: "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."
As a post-secondary institution with a diverse population, Acadia recognizes the importance of officially honouring Indigenous peoples. The new holiday aligns with our ongoing commitment and actions to advance reconciliation in partnership with Indigenous nations.
This year, members of the campus and community are encouraged to participate in a special public event hosted by Acadia University in partnership with Glooscap First Nation. The Truth before Reconciliation Mawio'mi will take place from Thursday, September 30 to Monday, October 4.
This fall, there will be multiple opportunities to observe mural making and learn more about truth, reconciliation, Treaty Day (October 1) and Mi'kmaq History Month in October. There are also plans for a two-day Indigenous market and art sale and a National Sisters in Spirit Vigil (October 4).
Planning is underway, and we will share more information as it is available.
Congratulations and thanks to Dr. Cynthia Alexander, Elder and Indigenous Student Advisor Darlene Peters-Copeland, and the Acadia students working on this program thanks to funding from a CWIL iHub Grant, I-WIL Commit to Truth and Reconciliation: Elders and Youth in Mi'kma'ki.
On The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we need to reflect and learn more about our shared history. We are all Treaty People.
Dr. Peter Ricketts
President and Vice-Chancellor