Go to page content

Aboriginal Peoples Week

Events seek to engage the university community in building reconciliation

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the contribution and impact of Aboriginal Peoples in N.L. and highlighting contemporary topics and opportunities related to Indigenous Peoples worldwide. This theme coincides with Aboriginal Peoples Week 2017: Building Reconciliation taking place at Memorial from March 20-24.


By Jennifer Batten

The second annual Aboriginal Peoples Week at Memorial University’s St. John’s campus will take place from March 20-24.

The theme of this year’s series of events is Building Reconciliation.

The week will begin with a public event on Monday, March 20, at 7 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, IIC-2001.

President Kachanoski will open the event. Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation will deliver an address, followed by a keynote presentation on building reconciliation by Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek, associate vice-president of academic and Indigenous programs at Laurentian University.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The week’s cornerstone events include four themed forums that will bring together faculty, staff and students from across disciplines to discuss what building reconciliation should look like at Memorial, and how the university can respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action.

The forums will be led by thought leaders who will set the stage for open dialogue and idea generation.

The forums, which will be similar in format to the two successful national building reconciliation forums that have taken place since the release of the TRC Report, will focus on the themes of teaching and learning, university research, the Aboriginal student experience and university governance and structures.

They will include brief presentations from each thought leader, followed by round table discussions with forum participants, including faculty, staff, students and representatives from Aboriginal communities across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Aboriginal celebrations

The rest of the week will feature sessions and events to celebrate Aboriginal peoples and cultures, including introductory sessions on the province’s three Aboriginal languages — Innu-aimun, Inuttitut and Mi’kmaw — Aboriginal craft-making and pow-wow aerobics offered by the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre.

“Last year, Aboriginal Peoples Week really grew out of the public forum on truth and reconciliation presented by the Harris Centre, in conjunction with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs,” said Catharyn Andersen, special advisor to the president on Aboriginal Affairs.

Catharyn Andersen
Catharyn Andersen
Photo: Chris Hammond

“It started with the forum and grew into something much larger, with events that celebrated and recognized Aboriginal Peoples, cultures and history, and created opportunities to inform and to teach, to share knowledge, and address the calls to action of the TRC.

“Next week we will build on the momentum of last year, and really explore how we, as a university community, can progress and move conversation to action to build reconciliation on our campuses.”

The week will conclude with a panel discussion featuring the university’s five vice-presidents who will participate in a Q&A on building reconciliation in the context of their portfolios.

Advanced registration is required to attend the forums, which are open to faculty, staff and students. To be part of the forum dialogue, contact Susan Kennedy.

Registration is not required for the cultural sessions and celebrations.

Find details for the schedule of events on the website.


To receive news from Memorial in your inbox, subscribe to Gazette Now.