Dear ECU Community,
In 2021, the Government of Canada declared Sept. 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to acknowledge the ongoing painful legacy of Canada’s residential school system. Emily Carr University will be closed in observance of this important day.
This federal statutory holiday is also known as Orange Shirt Day after the movement started by Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation member and former residential school student, Phyllis Webstad. Orange Shirt Day was created as an opportunity to commemorate the resilience of residential school survivors and their families, and to commit to the process of reconciliation.
For many Indigenous students, faculty, staff and administration at Emily Carr, this is a day for personal reflection and healing. It is a day to remember the children who did not make it home from school, and honour the survivors who did, but were forever changed. For many, this is a difficult day that recalls trauma no person should ever have to experience. The importance of engaging with the truth of our past safely and with self- and community care in place cannot be overstated.
For ECU’s non-Indigenous community, Sept. 30 is an opportunity to begin or continue doing the work of reconciliation. It is a day to honour the resilience of residential school survivors and intergenerational survivors. It’s a time to recognize how the past continues to impact our present. A day to engage in active and compassionate listening and learning. And an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the process of looking beyond personal experiences, and doing so with open hearts and minds.
Over and again we see how a shared ground of respect and cultural knowledge fosters healing and resilience among neighbours, colleagues and communities. This day is a chance to strengthen the bond that occurs when these values are nurtured and supported. When people nurture and support one another.
For those who are interested in participating in community events or learning more about Truth and Reconciliation, you can find a list of events and resources on ECU’s website.
We encourage you to engage with these materials regularly. Let’s commit to building a better, more resilient future. Let’s do this work together.
Aboriginal Programs Director + Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives
President + Vice-Chancellor