As indigenization and reconciliation impact campuses and in communities across the country, traditional ways are increasingly being looked to for answers to today’s problems.
“Now within universities we’re finding that it’s great to learn about arts, it’s great to learn about sciences, but as we move through the 21st century, we need philosophy and ethics to keep our earth sustainable. And how do you do that? We need to get to the ancient wisdoms—the old traditional wisdoms—because our people protected the resources for thousands upon thousands of years, and that’s what we need to do for the next generations,” said Paul Michel, executive director of TRU Aboriginal Affairs, during a celebration on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Held at the Secwepemc territorial marker on the ground floor of Old Main, the celebration was also used to welcome new staff and faculty to TRU and the traditional lands that TRU is located on—Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc within Secwépemc’ulucw, the traditional territory of the Secwépemc people. About 50 people attended the gathering, including students, staff, faculty, administrators and the public.
Michel continued, “We have philosophies where it’s the next seven generations that we need to protect things for, and that’s why we tell our stories. That’s why when you do your research, we tell you to put into your plan, ‘How am I acknowledging Indigenous knowledge?’ There isn’t an area of study at TRU where we can’t include that acknowledgement.”
Before this year, June 21 was recognized as National Aboriginal Day. This is the first year the day has been recognized on campus.
TRU’s indigenization efforts
In recent years, TRU has taken steps toward reconciliation and indigenizing the campus, whether that’s recognizing TRU being on traditional lands, hiring more Indigenous staff and faculty, offering First Nations language classes, incorporating Indigenous culture into courses and programs, creating more opportunities for Indigenous student research and bolstering Indigenous support services like mentorship.
Here are some of TRU’s efforts: