Conversations about Truth and Reconciliation
Posted on Monday, September 27, 2021
September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to commemorate the history and legacy of the residential school system, honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis Residential School Survivors, their families and communities, and reflect on our shared reconciliation journey.
The September 30 “Orange Shirt Day” movement originated among residential school survivors in British Columbia. At a commemoration and reunion gathering in 2013, former student Phyllis Webstad told her story of her first day at residential school, when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her.
The effects of residential schools remain ongoing for both Survivors and their descendants, who now share in the intergenerational effects of transmitted personal trauma and loss of language, culture, traditional teachings, and mental/spiritual wellbeing. “Orange Shirt Day” opens the door to conversation and discussion about the effects of residential schools and the legacy they have left behind; it is an opportunity to create bridges for reconciliation and hope.
In 2019, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada released the Joint Commitment to Action on Indigenous Health, a roadmap for concrete institutional change that will best enable Canadian medical schools to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and fulfill their social accountability mandates with respect to Indigenous health. It was unanimously endorsed by all 17 Canadian Faculties of Medicine, including the University of Ottawa.
Since 2005, our Faculty’s Indigenous Program has worked to develop awareness of Indigenous issues and increase the number of Indigenous students in the Undergraduate Medical Education Program. As part of our Faculty of Medicine’s ongoing response to the Calls to Action, we are establishing a new Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education. Its Founding Director, Dr. Sarah Minwanimad Funnell, is guiding the faculty as we work alongside Indigenous stakeholders and health practitioners to develop a vision for the Centre that is solution-oriented, responsive to local and regional needs, and focused on Indigenous health and social priorities.
Truth and Reconciliation week at the Faculty, organized collaboratively between the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education, Undergraduate Medical Education’s Indigenous Program, the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Continuing Professional Development, has offered opportunities to engage in learning about residential schools and the work of reconciliation, through a series of online webinars and an on-site exhibit.
The wearing of “Every Child Matters” shirts and pins on today’s “Orange Shirt Day” is a demonstration of our solidarity and commitment. It is our hope that we will continue this important dialogue throughout the year. Every Child Matters.
For more information, please visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Consider supporting the University of Ottawa.
The Social Accountability Initiatives at The Faculty Of Medicine fund was established to support activities that enhance the reciprocal transformation of the medical school and the communities we serve through meaningful community and stakeholder engagement, enhanced learner experience, and collaborative scholarship.