The road to reconciliation: 5 ways to listen, learn and reflect

Student affairs
Student life
Mashkawazìwogamig: Indigenous Resource Centre
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
An orange ribbon tied around railing.
The third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 is a time to reflect on the historical and continuing impact of the Indian residential school system, which operated in Canada from the 1870s to the 1990s. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued its 94 calls to action for governments, institutions and individuals. Here are some examples of what the uOttawa community is doing and what you can do to get informed and involved!
Orange shirts on Tabaret Lawn

1.    Attend the uOttawa National Day for Truth and Reconciliation ceremony 

The event on September 29 at 9:30 a.m. will feature testimonials from Indigenous students. University leaders will be present and elements of  traditional culture will be highlighted.  It will be followed by a community feast. Everyone is encouraged to wear orange. Wearing orange on September 30 began in 2013 as a grassroots movement inspired by the story of Phyllis Jack Webstad, whose personal clothing — including a brand-new orange shirt — was taken from her on her first day of residential schooling and was never returned. She was six.

Claudette Commanda

2.    Read about Chancellor Claudette Commanda’s journey

In case you missed this — or perhaps didn’t know — Claudette Commanda, an Algonquin Anishinaabe from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation and a uOttawa alumna (BA ’93, LLB ’97), became our first Indigenous chancellor this year. The chancellor is the titular head of the University, and occupies the place of honour at ceremonies — she might hand you your diploma when you graduate.

Spirit Garden

3.    Visit the Indigenous Spirit Gardens on campus

The Spirit Garden on the outdoor terrace off the third floor of the Faculty of Law’s Fauteux Hall grows traditional Indigenous medicines and sacred plants. The garden has semaa (tobacco), mshkwoodewashk (sage), zhgob (cedar) and wingushk (sweetgrass) — the “four sacred medicines” used in ceremonies. The Faculty of Social Sciences has also opened an Indigenous Garden to commemorate the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. These are just two places to discover.

Indigenous sculpture

4.    Reflect on Indigenous art

The sculpture on the Tabaret lawn, titled She dances with the earth, water and sky and unveiled in 2019, represents the relationship founded on truth and reconciliation between uOttawa, the Algonquin Nation and all Indigenous people in the National Capital Region and in Canada.

A more recent addition is a large mural depiction of Anishinaabe water law at the Faculty of Law’s Fauteux Hall on the third floor.

These are just a couple of examples. There’s more to explore within the faculties and as you walk around campus.

A friendship belt representing the relationship between uOttawa and the Algonquin and all Indigenous peoples.

5.    Follow @uottawaindigenous on Instagram!

Indigenous issues and events don’t just take place around September 30 or National Indigenous History Month in June. Learn more about the Mashkawazìwogamig Indigenous Resource Centre, a culturally safe space offering academic and wellness-based programs to First Nations, Inuit and Metis students. Friendly centre staff often host events that offer a chance to learn more about the community. Stay connected.

Indigenous Affirmation

We pay respect to the Algonquin people, who are the traditional guardians of this land. We acknowledge their longstanding relationship with this territory, which remains unceded. 

We pay respect to all Indigenous people in this region, from all nations across Canada, who call Ottawa home. 

We acknowledge the traditional knowledge keepers, both young and old. And we honour their courageous leaders: past, present, and future. 

Learn more about the Indigenous Affirmation.