By Nazeefa Ahmed, June 29 2023—
This June, the University of Calgary has hosted many events for Indigenous History Month. Events are part of a greater movement by the Indigenous strategy to include more Indigenous ways of being into campus identity. The initiative includes seven commitments to furthering truth and reconciliation efforts on campus, through honouring Indigenous traditions and maintaining meaningful community engagement.
“Transforming ways of being will include intentional inclusion and representation of Indigenous peoples, perspectives and cultural practices on campus,” read a statement from their strategy.
Events throughout the month included a Nickel Galleries Exhibition titled Devotion: Louis Riel Writes Home, a webinar highlighting ethical research among Indigenous populations and Campfire Chats to celebrate Indigenous culture through music.
Greater awareness of Indigenous history is often attributed to the findings of the unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia in May 2021. U of C President Ed McCauley released a statement after the discovery to encourage people to learn from Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.
“A school should be a place of caring, curiosity and inspiration — where one goes to thrive. As an educator, Canada’s shameful residential school history — and the damage it causes to generations upon generations of families — is painful to process. This pain deserves to be respected. We must not shy away from it because it is difficult. Such actions will not only avoid the pain, but the learning of the impacts of residential schools that are with us today,” read the statement.
In a statement to the Gauntlet, Vice-Provost of Indigenous Engagement Dr. Micheal Hart describes the ii’taa’poh’to’p Indigenous strategy goals and encourages members of the university community to reflect on the teachings in community events.
“The importance of National Indigenous History Month relates to opening our understandings and perspectives so that we can come to see Indigenous experiences, both historical and leading into the present moment. By developing a greater understanding, we’ll be better able to walk together along the parallel paths journey outlined in our Indigenous Strategy, ii’ taa’poh’to’p, and be better able to enact all of our visions,” read the statement.
“We encourage people to take up opportunities offered by different units throughout the university to deepen their understanding, and also take personal time to explore and learn, whether through reading or engaging with community events,” he continued.
More information about the Indigenous strategy as well as future events can be found on the Office of Indigenous Engagement website.