In June 2021, the federal government passed legislation to mark Sept. 30, as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Memorial first observed this day of reflection last year.
At their July 7 meeting, Memorial’s Board of Regents approved the annual observance in perpetuity of National Truth and Reconciliation Day. The university will close campuses and provide a paid day off for employees who are normally entitled to provincial and federal holidays. Senate has also approved the changes for the university calendar noting the day as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, with no lectures scheduled.
“Indigenization is a priority for Memorial University and we will pause operations on this day in observance and we encourage everyone in our community to pause with us and reflect, and seek your own ways to honour this day and its meaning. It is one step in the long road to reconciliation,” said Memorial’s President, Dr. Vianne Timmons.
Responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation responds to one of the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, calling for a day to “honour Survivors, their families and communities and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is one way Memorial is demonstrating its commitment to the process of reconciliation. In Transforming our Horizons, Memorial’s Commitment to Communities includes focusing on the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Additionally, Memorial’s Strategic Framework for Indigenization, developed in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador, sets out four strategic priorities: leadership and partnership; teaching and learning; research; and student success.
“The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an important day of reflection for everyone. Reconciliation starts with the truth, and so taking time to learn about the history and legacy of colonialism in this province and country is an important step in these collective efforts,” said Catharyn Andersen, vice-president (Indigenous).
Participating in Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30
Sept. 30 commemorates Orange Shirt Day, which began in 2013 as a way of increasing awareness about the residential school system and to honour Indigenous children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools and our collective responsibility to live up to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.
The orange shirt symbolizes the experiences and abuse suffered by children at residential schools. The university will recognize Orange Shirt Day on the St. John’s, Grenfell, Labrador and Marine Institute campuses.
Memorial is planning activities for the university community and more details regarding ways individuals can participate in reflection and action will be shared as the date is closer.