Acadia offers learning moments to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Acadia University will mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by offering learning opportunities during the week leading up to September 30, 2022, when the campus will close. This year, the federal statutory day commemorates the lived experience of residential school Survivors and the lasting impact on Indigenous communities.

“September 30th is a day of remembrance of our children who were stolen and never came home,” says Darlene Peters Copeland, the Indigenous Student Advisor at Acadia University. “It’s a day to take time to learn about those horrors of residential ‘schools'. It’s a day to try to understand the ongoing intergenerational trauma of residential ‘school’ Survivors, their families, and their communities coast-to-coast-to-coast. Every Child Matters.”

Acadia honorary degree recipient Hon. Justice Murray Sinclair (’21) served as the Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada from 2009-2015. One of Sinclair’s statements, “Education is what got us into this mess, and education will get us out,” still resonates with Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor, who says education can and should advance reconciliation. In 2019, Acadia signed a memorandum of understanding with the Glooscap First Nation to support indigenization efforts on campus.

“Our focus as an institution must be education,” says Dr. Claudine Bonner, Acadia’s Vice-Provost of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. “This isn't just another holiday. It’s an opportunity to keep learning, unlearning, and building community with our Mi'kmaq friends and neighbours.”

The University will be closed on September 30, but many ways exist to commemorate the day.

“As a university, we will continue to strive to be better and learn more to improve our relationship with members of the Indigenous community,” says Janique Ellis Panza, Acadia’s Coordinator, African Descent and Indigenous Student Opportunity and Success. “We are holding events to help educate members of the Acadia community about the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action because learning is a vital part of the reconciliation process.”

A time to listen and learn

September 26 – 30
Online Indigenous learning modules for the campus community
- Since last year, Copeland and Elder-in-Residence Dr. Joe Michael have worked with politics professor Dr. Cynthia Alexander and students across campus to create virtual learning modules to explore Indigenous history.

“Acknowledging past and ongoing human rights violations is a daily exercise in decolonizing ourselves and learning how to be anti-racist and anti-colonial,” Dr. Alexander explains. The modules are available through ACORN with university login credentials.

The first module, called Juksutui (“listen to me” in Mi'kmaw), provides information about the impacts of colonialism that persist in Canada. First offered in 2021, more than 200 campus community members rose to the challenge and took the course.

The second module, Nesutmalsewu’ti (“do you understand” in Mi’kmaw), explores Indigenous Peoples’ teaching and experiences more deeply. With the discovery of more unmarked graves on the sites of residential schools, Elder-in-Residence Dr. Joe Michael says the campus community is asked to explore Survivor stories and information for reflection and learning.

Dr. Laura Robinson, Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning Excellence (Interim), is challenging the entire campus community to complete the units by midnight on September 30 and to post their Certificates of Completion (downloaded from ACORN) on their doors or windows or share them online.

Students who helped create the courses say, “We have been exposed to so much history, truth, and trust through the wonderful partners we have interacted with,” adding that they want others on campus to experience it as well.  

September 26 – 30
Library offerings - Learn more at the Vaughan Memorial Library, which has produced a Truth and Reconciliation Day Reading and Learning Guide to support education and action. The guide contains books, podcasts, films, streaming episodes, and other resources related to Indigenous sovereignty, reconciliation, resistance, and beyond. The library has an accompanying book display featuring titles available for loan. This poignant showcase of materials includes excerpts from TRC reports and Survivor accounts.

“When we know better, we do better, and perusing information resources from academic libraries is a terrific way to expand knowledge,” says Heather Saunders, Acadia’s Dean of Libraries and Archives.

The library will have reduced hours on September 30 (noon until 5 p.m.).

September 27 – 29 (noon – 4 p.m.)
Visit Welkaqnik
- Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and get a free T-shirt to wear to support them. Enjoy good conversation and snacks. Indigenous Student Gathering Space (Welkaqnik) Rhodes Hall

September 27 (5 p.m.)
Raise a tipi
- Acadia’s Indigenous Student Advisor, Elder-in-Residence Dr. Joe, and Acadia students will raise a tipi. Front lawn, University Hall

September 28 (1 p.m. – 4 p.m.)
Leave your mark!
- Indigenous students and employees are invited to make handprints on the stairs of Rhodes Hall while others observe and enjoy the event. There will be orange paint, snacks, and music. All are welcome. Rhodes Hall stairs

September 28 (4:30 p.m.)
Gather together
- Attend a ceremony and light supper. Indigenous Student Gathering Space (Welkaqnik) Rhodes Hall

September 30
- National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day.
The Campus will be closed, and Varsity Athletics games held at home on September 30 will commemorate the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

Acadia University is located in Mi’kma’ki, the homeland of the Mi’kmaq. We acknowledge the Treaties of Peace and Friendship and thank the Mi’kmaw people for their generosity in sharing their homeland with us.



In Their Words

Current students in Dr. Alexander’s Introduction to Politics course share their experiences to inspire and motivate the entire campus community to take the time to complete the short units on September 30. In their words:

“Don't hide from the truth. Every single one of us has a role to play, and we must be honest with ourselves. We have to make a change.”

“My challenge is simple: Despite what you may already think you know about Canada's history of colonialism, you will only get better by attempting to gain more knowledge. You owe it not only to Canada's Indigenous community but Canada as a whole to attempt to decolonize your life and to approach these issues with more sensitivity and thoughtfulness.”

“It was a wonderful learning experience, and it would give others a chance to expand their knowledge on some topics they may not be aware of.”  

“I think all Acadia students, staff, and professors should complete Juksutui and Nesutmaswu'ti because it gives you a wider and deeper understanding of the Indigenous peoples. I challenge them to finish Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu'ti and share the information they got from it with other people.”  

“Fight against the ignorance that surrounds our country, do not sit ideally by as the oppression that Indigenous Peoples face. We can rise above the chains that hold us down.

“Educating yourself on topics that matter is necessary, as you live on their land. Become a part of decolonization and learn from our past instead of showing ignorance.”

“I think you should take a moment to complete these; it gives you more knowledge about Indigenous Peoples and their land and history. It’s important that we educate ourselves, and we can teach others about the history of the land we're on. I challenge you to complete Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu'ti by midnight on September 30!”

“If everyone is well informed and educated, it will make for a better future here at our school. If everyone at Acadia completes it, they can tell their family and friends, leading to further exposure and more education!”

“You can’t change the past, so learn it, don’t repeat it. No matter who you are, we all need to be educated on it.”

“It opens your eyes to what these two cultures are about and shows what we should have already known. We are on their land, so we should at least know about them.”

“Honouring is important; honour by completing Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu'ti by September 30. Make a change, teach yourself and others.”

“It is important to value the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada and to learn the truth and start to reconcile; there is no better way than to complete the Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu’ti certificates by midnight on the 30th of September and learn about the true history.”

“I think you should complete these as you could learn so much about Canada’s history that you have never known. You could end up changing your life, and someone else's just by having more knowledge on this topic. As well as being a Canadian or staying in Canada, it should be a requirement to know this information and know it well.”

“Hey, Acadia campus! September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As a community based on learning and who strive to be better, we challenge all Acadia students and staff to complete Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu’ti by midnight on September 30.”

“In a time of truth and reconciliation, it is important to educate ourselves. We are challenging the entire university campus to complete these two courses. See how much you know and how much you’ll learn.”

“The Acadia campus community is challenged to complete Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu’ti by midnight on September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, to make a statement. If our university can set a precedent in Canada to be educated on the topic of Indigenous Peoples across the country, we take away the excuse of it being ‘too hard.’ Together, we can make sure this terrible history never repeats itself, and we can also work together towards reconciliation in our future to make a better country where everyone is heard and recognized.”

“… the Introduction to Politics Class of 2022 challenges the Acadia University community, whether you're a student, staff, faculty, or visitor, to complete the online units for National Truth and Reconciliation, Juksutui and Nesutmalsewu'ti. Challenge yourself and your learning to take part in the continuous effort to make Acadia an inclusive community and a safer space by completing the units before midnight on September 30.”


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