Dear U of G Community Members,
Less than a month ago, the remains of 215 children were found buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Since then, there have been widespread calls for further searches, and more graves have been found. Most recently, 751 unmarked graves were confirmed by the Cowessess First Nation at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.
The loss of each of these lives is an unthinkable tragedy.
We grieve with the loved ones of the children who never returned home, with residential school survivors, and with all First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and families. The flags on the University of Guelph campuses have been lowered to half-mast in honour of those who lost their lives – but lowering our flags marks only the beginning of the University’s recommitment to learning and to action.
As the last several weeks have underlined, it is pressing and overdue that all Canadians address the ongoing impact of the legacies of residential schools and colonialism. We must learn and respond to these histories and realities in order to move meaningfully and swiftly toward truth and reconciliation.
As a community dedicated to higher learning, the University of Guelph aspires to pursue the best versions of ourselves and to building inclusive societies where everyone thrives. I encourage each of you to consider how you might take action through your learning, teaching, research or professional work to contribute toward decolonization and reconciliation. You may choose to begin by learning more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the University’s Indigenous Initiatives Strategy, and the Exploring Indigenous Narratives and Worldviews collection curated by Indigenous Initiatives and the Indigenous Student Centre at U of G.
To Indigenous students, staff and faculty at U of G: We are dedicated to creating a University community that honours your histories, your cultures and your ways of knowing. There are resources and services available to you through the University and the broader community:
• Indigenous Student Adviser: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Student Counselling Services: 519-824-4120, Ext. 53244
• Good2Talk: 1-866-925-5454 or text “UofG” to 686868
• Keep.meSAFE (for international students): 1-844-451-9700
• Employee Assistance Program (for faculty and staff): 1-800-265-8310
• 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line (for those impacted by the residential school system): 1-866-925-4419
Our community is grateful for the opportunity to live, learn and work on the lands that connect us as part of the University of Guelph. We will continue to engage and update you on our plans as we work collaboratively toward decolonization and reconciliation.
Dr. Gwen Chapman
Acting President; Provost and Vice-President (Academic)