People across Canada are mourning the 215 children whose remains were discovered on the site of the former Kamloops Residential School, in the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia. Their deaths were often not recorded. They died away from their parents, families and communities. As educators, we are appalled by this atrocity; to know that for more than one hundred years, and within living memory, children were neglected, abused, murdered, died and disappeared as part of a systematic program of cultural genocide perpetrated through these schools. As parents, siblings, or children, we all weep for their loss.
Among the members of our Faculty and the University community are intergenerational survivors of the Residential Schools. This week’s news has surely triggered many difficult memories and all the emotion and trauma that go with them. To you, we offer our solidarity and our commitment to never forget. In 2019, a group of us visited Kitigan Zibi to learn from Elders and survivors of the impact of the Residential Schools on their community. We visited the memorial that names every member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnaabeg First Nation who was sent to residential schools. We learned that the impact is not only part of the past, but is very much part of the present.
The past shapes the present and we have yet to fully acknowledge the past when it comes to the Residential School system. Addressing such intergenerational trauma and the ongoing violence of settler colonialism matters to us, the Faculty of Education, at the University of Ottawa. Our University was founded by the Oblates, who trained those who administrated and taught within the Residential School System. Education systems in Canada, including our Faculty of Education, are making efforts to change, but have, in many cases, yet to embrace reconciliation to its fullest extent. The Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission almost six years ago are far from being implemented, nationally, provincially, or locally. Many of them directly concern education.
The present shapes the future, and we all have a part to play. As teachers, educators and researchers, we must redouble our efforts to rethink teaching, schooling and curriculum for positive, reciprocal, ethical relations with Indigenous nations and peoples, and everyone who lives here on Turtle Island. At the Faculty of Education, work is underway to draft an Action Plan to establish and guide our future activities. We will all be called upon to contribute.
Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education
Richard Barwell, Dean
Francis Bangou, Vice-Dean, Governance and Student Affairs
Isabelle Bourgeois, Vice-Dean, Research and Professional Development
Raymond Leblanc, Interim Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Programs
Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, Vice-Dean, Graduate Programs