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University News | 09.23.22

Wear orange: Adler observes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with events, speakers

To commemorate the victims and survivors of Canada’s Indigenous residential school system, Adler University is inviting students, staff, and faculty from all three campuses to attend several virtual events leading up to the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

Photo of Crystal Gail Fraser

Crystal Gail Fraser, Ph.D.

The virtual events, scheduled Sept. 26-29, include a presentation by historian Crystal Gail Fraser, Ph.D., whose doctoral dissertation was awarded the 2020 John Bullen Prize by the Canadian Historical Association for her thesis T’aih k’ìighe’ tth’aih zhit dìidìch’ùh or By Strength, We Are Still Here. Dr. Fraser’s research focused on the history of student experiences at Indian residential schools in the Inuvik Region between 1959 and 1996.

The Canadian government created the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, around the time when hundreds of Indigenous children’s remains were found in unmarked graves.

“Dr. Fraser’s story is quite inspiring, and I hope students can be inspired her,” said Sandra Song, Ph.D., chair of Adler Vancouver’s Master of Public Policy and Administration program and chair of the Adler Vancouver Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

“Our Institution stands for social justice and reconciling our past injustices,” Dr. Song said. “Inviting Dr. Fraser to speak on truth and reconciliation is an important step forward to begin addressing those injustices. She will shake the canon in how we ultimately view Canadian history.”

Photo of Anjeanette Dawson

Anjeanette Dawson

Adler’s commemoration events include a presentation, titled “Truth and Reconciliation from an Indigenous Lens,” by Indigenous educator and counselor Anjeanette Dawson, to be held Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. PDT/noon CDT. Dawson’s passion is to share her perspectives regarding Indigenous education and working with teachers indigenizing their lesson plans and materials.

On Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. PDT/noon CDT, Dr. Fraser will present on the “Importance of Truth and Reconciliation.” Dr. Fraser was recently appointed as assistant professor in the Department of History & Classics and the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta.

On Sept. 29, at noon PDT/2 p.m. CDT, two intergenerational survivors of residential schools will share their stories during a virtual presentation titled “History and Impacts of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.” The presenters are Veronica Haddon, senior manager of Northern Indian Day School and Trauma Informed Cultural Support, and Bruce Allan, a resolution health support worker and educator who has taught First Nations Studies and Aboriginal Studies.

In addition, attendees of the virtual events are encouraged to wear orange shirts. On Sept. 26, students in the Adler Vancouver campus may pick up orange shirts at reception on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sept. 30 is also known as Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family, and community inter-generational impacts of residential schools, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.” The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom, and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.

These presentations are among several events being held in the Vancouver area in commemoration of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

From 1831 to 1998, there were 140 federally run Indigenous residential schools in Canada. The government separated about 150,000 Indigenous children from their families, forcing them to attend Christian boarding schools to assimilate them into Canadian society. The Canadian government has acknowledged that physical and sexual abuses were widespread in these schools, with thousands of children dying from disease and other causes.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was created in direct response to a call to action included in a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran from 2008-15.

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