By Negar Shayan
Throughout 2017, which marks the 150th anniversary of confederation, the UTS Indigenous Solidarity Committee – which includes James Campbell and myself as staff supervisors, Elder-in-Residence Cat Criger and students from F1-S6 – has been focused on the following question: “What is our vision for Canada in the next 150 years?”
It is a question that inspires many responses and ideas, but what we know for certain is that this vision for the future include continuing our education and reconciliation efforts in our community by following the four categories of the medicine wheel (feeling, knowing, doing and being).
One such initiative of the Committee was the April event entitled Progress: Canada in the Making, a gathering that featured a smudging ceremony, a panel discussion with Seán Kinsella, Max Fineday, Zainab Ahmadahy and Cat Criger, a musical performance by Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone and the collaborative creation of a mural that was subsequently displayed in the school’s main foyer.
The event was a representation of the ongoing efforts of the Indigenous Solidarity Committee and UTS to ensure that the school exemplifies truth, reconciliation and healing in action. Among the steps the school has taken in the past several years are the addition of Territorial Acknowledgments during assemblies and ceremonies, increased focus on Indigenous issues in our curriculum, the addition of the Elder-in-Residence role and active participation in Orange Shirt Day.
Our mandate is to promote self-education about the histories of the lands we reside on, to be accountable and responsive to the experiences, voices and perspectives of Indigenous people and to provide opportunities for students to experience, understand and appreciate Indigenous cultures. We know there is still much more to do, and the UTS Indigenous Solidarity Committee is dedicated to doing its part.
We invite ideas and participation from the UTS community. For more information, please contact me by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org