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Trent University unveils installations to highlight treaty land, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Click to play video: 'Trent University recognizes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation'
Trent University recognizes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Trent University honoured local Michi Saagig people with two new treaty-inspired installations. The tribute on Symons Campus was unveiled during a ceremony Thursday – Sep 30, 2021

As part of the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday, Trent University unveiled new installations at its campuses in Peterborough and Durham Region to pay tribute to the importance of the original treaties pertaining to the land upon which its two campuses are built and honour the original signatories of the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg.

Outside the Bata Library at the Peterborough campus, officials unveiled three limestone boulders bearing the symbols of the dodem (clan totems) carvings of the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig signatories as well as a statement identifying the Symons Campus lands as being situated on Michi Saagiig traditional territory.

At the Trent University Durham GTA campus in Oshawa, a new Treaty Wall was installed in the front atrium of the campus featuring original signatory documents and a pre-Confederation treaty map.

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The university says both installations will help educate the community that Trent sits on land featuring Williams Treaty signatories.

“For more than 50 years, Trent has been committed to providing education in Indigenous history, traditions, cultures, and Indigenous knowledges for students and the broader community,” stated Julie Davis, Trent’s vice-president of external relations and development.

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“As we honour Truth and Reconciliation Day, recognizing the local treaties and the Michi Saagiig people is foundational.”

Curve Lake First Nation Chief Emily Whetung says the First Nation just north of Peterborough has a “gold-standard” relationship with Trent University, which became the first university in Canada (and only the second in North America) to establish an academic department dedicated to the study of Indigenous Peoples and knowledges.

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“Trent University prioritizes hearing the teachings of our Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers and ensuring the teachings are respected. We are very pleased to see these installations, developed in a true partnership, come to life,” she said. “The meaningful acknowledgment of our ancestral lands and the treaty in which Trent University is situated will raise awareness in all who pass through Trent University.”

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, director of Trent’s First Peoples House of Learning, says a key part of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is to remember and honour those who were “forced into Indian residential schools.”

“We are committing ourselves as an institution to engage in the process of reconciliation,” she said. “As a small but important first step we must acknowledge the truth of our shared history and these installations were designed to educate all those who study, work, or visit our campuses.

“We give these places of honour to the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg, the original signatories of Treaty 20 and Williams Treaty, as a sign of respect and our commitment to do better and to work together in true partnership as the original treaties intended.”

The university has also created a new Honouring Truth & Reconciliation Day webpage to engage “meaningfully” in reconciliation and to encourage reflection, engagement and action.

— More to come

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Click to play video: 'Global News Morning Peterborough: Talking Truth and Reconciliation with David Newhouse'
Global News Morning Peterborough: Talking Truth and Reconciliation with David Newhouse

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