The following message from Theresa Rajack-Talley, Vice-Provost, Equity & Inclusion, and Catherine Martin, Director, Indigenous Community Engagement, was shared with Dalhousie students, faculty and staff this week.
This weekend is an extremely important one here at Dalhousie and in Mi'kma'ki. It is a time for honouring and learning from the past as we reflect on our commitments and responsibilities now and into the future.
On Saturday, we commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, while Sunday is Treaty Day here in Nova Scotia and the launch of Mi’kmaq History Month.
Says President Kim Brooks: “Commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day and celebrating Mi’kmaq History Month is of great significance for all members of the Dalhousie community. This coming weekend, throughout the month of October, and beyond, I hope you’ll join me in learning, reflecting, and taking action to advance reconciliation across our campuses and in our communities.”
Commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation & Orange Shirt Day
Each year, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Dalhousie joins with many others on our campus and in our broader community to commemorate this tragic and painful history and recognize the ongoing impacts of residential schools. We encourage our students, faculty, staff, and families, on this day in particular, to reflect and participate in activities organized on and off our campus. Taking the time to learn more and act is how we collectively engage in reconciliation.
September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day to send a message that “Every Child Matters” and that it was a violation of human rights for residential schools to violently attempt to strip away the culture, freedom, and self-esteem of Indigenous children that they had experienced over generations. We invite Dal community — particularly our student population — to wear orange on Saturday and engage in activities organized to honour the thousands of Survivors and those students who never got to go home.
On September 30, Dalhousie will light up the Henry Hicks clock tower in orange and raise the orange “Every Child Matters” flag to acknowledge the inter-generational impacts of residential schools. The flag will continue to fly throughout Mi’kmaq History Month in October.
Commemorating & celebrating Treaty Day and Mi’kmaq History Month
Following TRC Day and Orange Shirt Day is Treaty Day and the start of Mi’kmaq History Month - Wi’kipatmu’k Mi'kmawey.
In 1993, Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaw Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy designated October as the official month to recognize and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage. The month begins with Treaty Day (October 1) which speaks to the 1752 Peace and Friendship Treaty. When we acknowledge “we are all treaty people,” it is in reference to treaties such as this which are intended to guide our relationships on lands the Mi’kmaq have called home for thousands of years. These treaties are part of a long tradition of relationship-making meant to protect Indigenous ways of life with reciprocity and respect.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the proclamation recognizing October as Mi’kmaq History Month. The Mi’kmaq History Month Committee has selected to focus on Mi’kmaw Sports, Traditional Games and Pastimes. This year’s commemorative poster reflects how sports, games and pastimes have long helped young minds grow into ways of thinking, moving and being as adults.
It is a fitting theme given the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) were held here this past summer in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Dartmouth and Millbrook First Nation, bringing together 756 Indigenous Nations to celebrate, share and reconnect through sport and culture in. Dalhousie was one of many proud hosts for the young athletes and we were honoured to support NAIG’s mission to improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples by supporting self-determined sports and cultural activities which encourage equal access to participation in the social / cultural / spiritual fabric of the community in which they reside and which respects Indigenous distinctiveness.
Dalhousie’s faculty, staff, students and alumni join with other Nova Scotians throughout October to celebrate and build awareness of Mi'kmaq history and heritage, and to increase understanding of the rich Mi'kmaq culture. This is a month to learn, to reflect, to listen and to share. Dalhousie University respects its relationship with the Mi’kmaq community and has opened a Community Engagement Sub-Office located in Millbrook First Nation in April this year as part of a shared vision and partnership with the Native Women’s Association and Millbrook First Nation to be used for educational and outreach purposes.
On October 18, Dalhousie will host our 13th annual Mawio’mi in Halifax, one of our university’s most beloved annual gatherings. All are invited to attend and take part in the food and festivities.
We also invite students and our entire Dal community to visit the display created by students and staff at Halifax West in honour of Red Dress Day, which is an annual event in memory of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women across Canada. The interactive exhibit is currently on display in the Killam Library, and aims to inspire conversations and questions about the tragedy of violence against Indigenous women and children.
For other activities related to Mi’kmaq History Month occurring on and off campus visit our website.
Dalhousie University acknowledges that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People and pays respect to the Indigenous knowledges held by the Mi’kmaq People, and to the wisdom of their Elders past and present. The Mi'kmaq People signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the Crown, and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms Aboriginal and Treaty rights. We are all Treaty people.