Western president Alan Shepard, provost Sarah Prichard, and associate vice-president, Indigenous Initiatives, Christy R. Bressette, issued this statement today:
Today marks the end of a 215-hour period of mourning, honouring the lives of 215 children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of these children, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc People, and to Indigenous People across Turtle Island.
For these families and Indigenous communities, nothing can ever be the same.
We acknowledge the intergenerational trauma, and the impact on survivors and future generations of Indigenous Peoples. The immeasurable loss of more Indigenous lives is another reminder of our responsibility to work toward Truth and Reconciliation.
Beyond this period of mourning, we must all take part in making significant change based on a long-term commitment to listening, reflecting, collaborating and taking systemic action.
Guided by our Indigenous Strategic Plan, we will continue to build on the progress of making meaningful change at Western. The Office of Indigenous Initiatives continues to expand in response to burgeoning needs and is focused on growing culturally relevant teaching and learning supports and resources for the benefit of all students, faculty and staff.
This work responds to urgent needs such as revitalizing Indigenous languages and expanding Indigenous programming across a wide range of disciplines. It also aims to introduce missing and diverse knowledge into classroom conversations – fostering deeper understanding and strengthening relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Immediate measures include increased support for Indigenous students and creating culturally relevant learning safe spaces that remove barriers and foster student success.
Each of us has a role to play in championing and sustaining Indigenization and decolonization across the university and in our broader communities. Here are 12 Ways to Engage in Truth and Reconciliation at Western right now.
Our work at Western has only just begun.
Alan Shepard, president and vice-chancellor
Sarah Prichard, provost and vice-president (Academic)
Christy R. Bressette, vice-provost and associate vice-president (Indigenous Initiatives)