Working in step with Indigenous peoples – University Affairs
OCT 14 2021
The sixth edition of the National Building Reconciliation Forum was held virtually on Sept. 21-23 under the theme “Falling into step with First Peoples students.”
The forum was held nearly one year to the day after Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, died in hospital in the Quebec region of Lanaudière after being mistreated and insulted by nursing staff. Her death became a symbol of racism toward Indigenous peoples in Quebec. That was followed a few months later by the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of First Nations children near former residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
“These highly publicized tragedies have led even more people at our universities to take an interest in the Indigenous experience and have contributed to the popularity of this year’s forum, which had around 400 participants,” said Johanne Jean, president of Université du Québec and co-president of the forum.
These events have also helped to spotlight the difficult relationships between Indigenous peoples and postsecondary institutions. The memory of the devastation caused by the residential and day schools is still fresh in Indigenous communities. Sen. Michèle Audette, co-president of the forum and senior advisor for reconciliation and Indigenous education at Université Laval, herself had to attend day schools run by religious communities in her youth.
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