ANTIGONISH: Reconciliation and aboriginal studies were topics for two recent events at StFX.
Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, made an address to staff students and residents. Sinclair focused mainly on what universities can do about reconciliation.
“My assumption always is at this point in time that those in positions are aware of what the report says and they’ve taken the time to consider what they can do and I think now is the time for us to be talking about specific plans of action and steps institutions like universities can and should be taking,” said Sinclair.
Sinclair said there are a number of indigenous graduates with PhDs and other post-graduate degrees who are looking for opportunities to bring their skills to universities and other post-secondary institutes. He said universities should make an effort to attract and hire these individuals. He also spoke on the issue of indigenous scholarships, noting academia largely ignored areas such as indigenous law and customs.
“The aboriginal population of Western Canada is the largest growing population in the country and pretty soon in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta it’s potentially going to be 20-25 per cent of the provincial population and that’s an enormous political, social, and legal population of people,” said Sinclair.
“The sheer need for universities to be competitive requires that they give some thought to what it is they can do to contribute to the evolution of this nation.
“Education is the key to reconciliation,” he continued. “Public schools have to change their curriculum in order to provide more knowledge about the history of this country that is accurate and reflective of what we now know is the case. In addition to that, they have a primary obligation to educate people who are aware of their abilities and responsibilities towards reconciliation.”
Earlier on November 8, StFX hosted the renewal of the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program delivered by Atlantic Canadian universities in partnership with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs. A release from the university stated the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Atlantic Canadian universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the research program five years ago.
“It was a pleasure to host this important signing of this MOU that will not only deliver sound research into aboriginal economic development opportunities, but it also strengthens the relationship between indigenous communities and universities,” stated StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald.