A Statement from NSCC President Don Bureaux
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Sep. 29, 2021 – Statement
Over the course of more than a century, some 150,000 Indigenous children were removed from their communities, torn from their families, and forced to attend church-run Indian Residential Schools. There, many suffered physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse, malnutrition and neglect. More than 4,000 are believed to have died. For months, the world has witnessed ever-increasing numbers of unmarked or undocumented graves being uncovered on or near the sites of former Residential Schools.
Never has it been more important to honour the victims of this tragic legacy than now.
This year, the federal government has designated September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As announced in August, the College will be closed tomorrow (Sept. 30) to honour the Survivors, their families and communities, and all who have been impacted by the legacy of the Indian Residential School system. Our flags will be half-masted at all our buildings for the day.
As a post-secondary institution with a focus on human rights, equity and inclusion – and as a signatory to the CICan Indigenous Education Protocol – we feel that taking time to learn and grow from this tragedy is key to the process of reconciliation. As promised a few months ago, we will be planting white cedar trees at our 13 physical campuses as a way to honour those lives. While the trees will be planted in the spring of 2022, Truro Campus will have a small ceremony involving the first tree today (Sept. 29) as a quiet commemoration of the very first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Truro Campus is also our closest site to the location of the former Shubenacadie Residential School.
In past years, September 30 has been recognized as Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission Residential School commemoration event and has since spread across the country. The name, Orange Shirt Day, honours survivor Phyllis Webstad's story of having her new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of school at the Mission.
We are encouraging our community to wear an orange t-shirt or an orange ribbon or piece of orange material on their lapel/shirt to show your support. In the fall there will be t-shirts available on campuses in limited numbers with an image created by Mi’kmaw youth and NSCC Graphic Design student Cailin Gerrard announced in August – generously supported by NSCC Foundation. As well, orange shirts with the NSCC logo will soon be available for purchase in the bookstores with proceeds going toward Indigenous student initiatives or immediate needs. While we had planned months ago to have orange shirts available on campus in time for September 30, we were unable to secure them any earlier because of a national supply shortage – a factor which would appear to be due to a greater interest in sharing a visible sign of support.
We are also working on a REDress project as an act of reconciliation to commemorate, acknowledge and honour the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people on October 4. More information will be coming from your principal on this initiative.
We recognize the land upon which we work, live, and learn is the unceded territory and ancestral homeland of the Mi’kmaq Nation, and our relationship is based on a series of sacred Peace and Friendship Treaties. I ask everyone to take the time to learn and grow from the tragic truths of Indian Residential Schools, specifically the intergenerational legacy of the Shubenacadie Residential School in Mi’kmaw territory.
I thank you all for your continued commitment to the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Report and its Calls to Action (PDF 298KB).
With gratitude and respect,