The University of British Columbia has taken the extraordinary step of suspending almost all classes on its Vancouver campus on September 18 to encourage its community to participate in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s National Event.
Held at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, the TRC will gather testimony from survivors of the Indian residential school system that operated from 1875 – 1996 in Canada. Forcibly removed from their homes, Aboriginal children were subject to emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
“UBC is fundamentally committed to ensuring what we’ve learned through the work of the commission will help guarantee future relationships are much better than those of the past,” said UBC President Stephen Toope, who is scheduled to speak at the national event on Sept. 18. “I encourage everyone to get involved.”
Situated on unceded Musqueam territory, UBC has long-standing partnerships with First Nations communities. Toope stated the rare suspension of classes by UBC’s Vancouver Senate advances the university’s efforts to play a leading role in the current reconciliation movement.
“One of the most damaging aspects of the residential school system has been the silence surrounding it. It’s a silence that must be broken to provide a common understanding and recognition of our true history,” said Professor Linc Kesler, senior advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs.
UBC is encouraging students and faculty to attend the TRC event at the PNE. A number of related events will be held at UBC, including at the Museum of Anthropology and the Belkin Art Gallery. A livestream of the events taking place at the PNE will be broadcast across campus.
For more information:
This will be the last national event for the TRC on the West Coast. Click here to learn more about its mandate and activities
To hear a faculty member perspective on the importance of the TRC, click here
To find out more about how a non-indigenous student is getting involved, click here