Georgian College has unveiled a new plaque acknowledging that college campuses are located on traditional Anishinaabeg land.
The unveiling on Nov. 2 was followed by a workshop on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, led by Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux of Lakehead University.
The Anishinaabeg are a large clan of indigenous people, living in various areas of Canada and the U.S. They first settled near Georgina in the early 1800s. The Department of Upper Canada wanted to push First Nations away from white settlements, so put them on northern reserves.
“It’s important to acknowledge that Indigenous people are the original inhabitants of Canada,” explains Tareyn Johnson, Indigenization Co-ordinator at Georgian College. “Honouring our nation’s history will lead to a future built on reconciliation and respect.”
Georgian’s student population is rapidly changing. The college now serves 11,000 full-time students, including 1,100 international students and 570 students who identify as Indigenous.
As part of its new Strategic Plan, the college will now begin all events with a statement acknowledging that the Anishinaabeg are the original stewards of the land that they are currently occupying. All Georgian faculty members will also be encouraged to participate in a series of workshops led by members of the Indigenous community.
The workshop about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was led by Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux, who is currently serving as the 1st Indigenous Chair on Truth and Reconciliation on behalf of Lakehead University, Thunder Bay and Orillia. She is a member of the Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation in Lake Simcoe and has dedicated her life to building bridges of understanding between people.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission marked the beginning of a new and more hopeful chapter in Canadian history,” says Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College. “Georgian wants to be part of the nationwide effort to restore trust between Indigenous peoples and public institutions – and we think that effort begins right here on our campuses.”
In the photo: Lorraine McRae, Rama First Nation Elder, and MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College, unveil a plaque that officially acknowledges that Georgian campuses are located on the traditional land of the Anishnaabeg people.
Article compiled by Zehra Raza.
Photo courtesy Georgian College.