Written by Alyssa Walker

The University of Victoria (UVic) recently hosted the fourth National Building Reconciliation Forum to address ways that universities can collaborate with Indigenous communities to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 'Calls to Action'.

According to University Affairs, CBC broadcast journalist and chancellor of UVic, Shelagh Rogers, welcomed the “hard-working, committed and visionary people” who attended. She said, “You would not be here if you were not passionate about building a new relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. The very fact of your presence signifies that you are hopeful that this new relationship can be built.”

This year's theme, Ts'its'u watul tseep, or "to help one another" in the Hul'q'umi'num' language.

Over two days, forum participants attended four panels with thought leaders in the fields of child welfare and health, language and culture, education, entrepreneurship and socio-economic capacity building, and education and justice. University administrators, academics, elders, Indigenous artists, business people, and representatives from the not-for-profit sector made up the panelists, who all discussed different ways of helping each other.

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, said, “This is a national gathering to reflect on the truth and also learn best practices from one another. [...] What is working, what can accelerate change, what can embed change, what can we do to make sure that we are all proud of the work that we’ve done in this time of reconciliation.”

One common theme among the discussions was letting Indigenous communities lead the way and dictate their needs.

Next year, five post-secondary institutions will host the event, which will be held at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe people.

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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