Response to Commissioner Chief Littlechild
Thank you, Commissioner Chief Littlechild, for being here this morning to help us dedicate this bench of reconciliation. Thanks for your words, which are inspiring and which challenge us to accept the invitation to journey together on the way to deeper understanding and a fuller reconciliation. Thank you also for the tremendous work you did with your fellow commissioners. The final Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and Calls to Action are comprehensive and chart a path forward for Canada in its future relationship with Aboriginal peoples.
At the TRC event held in Edmonton in March 2014 we promised to build a bench and garden to be a constant reminder to us of the commitments we have made towards reconciliation. You said then, that you looked forward to the day you could sit on that bench and today here you are. You are most welcome to sit here any time you like – and help yourself to the berries. They are meant to be shared! We have invited Chief Commissioner Sinclair to be our commencement speaker this spring. I hope that if he is able to join us, and that he will also find the bench to be a good place to sit and think as well.
The completion of the garden and bench both honours our institutional commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and monumentally marks the first completed Shared Vision 2020 item in our new strategic plan. Quite appropriate I think. We know that this bench is only a beginning. At the TRC event I also made other promises.
I said that we would teach our students about the truth of Canada and the residential schools so that they share in the ownership of that history. We are doing that but can do better. Our new strategic plan calls for a review of our foundations curriculum, the courses that all students are required to take. The faculty have just started this review but it may result in a core course on reconciliation.
I said that we would advocate for justice and dignity for residential school survivors, and that we will invite our students into that task. We are doing that and we recognize that this is an ongoing challenge that we accept.
I said that we would speak out against racism, marginalization and systemic injustices faced by indigenous brothers and sisters, and we will urge our students to be strong in that challenge. I’m proud to say that a number of our faculty are actively involved in such matters and we accept the challenge to continue and to increase that work
It is our goal to make our campus a hospitable place of training for social transformation, where all are welcome, where each one’s gift is celebrated, and each person’s life is respected as a sacred response to the Creator’s life in us all.
Chief Littlechild, in the Calls to Action you include a number of recommendations concerning Education for Reconciliation. These recommendations are aimed at schools like our own, especially here at King’s: our mission statement says that “we exist to provide university education that inspires and equips learners to bring renewal and reconciliation to every walk of life… We take your calls to actions seriously and promise to respond to the best of our ability.
Once again, thanks for all that you have done, thanks for accepting our invitation to be here. Please pray for us that we may be a worthy partner in reconciliation. Thank you.