SFU's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation graphic is a subtle expression of Etuaptmumk (Two-Eyed Seeing), a guiding principle developed by Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall that recognizes better outcomes are more likely if we bring two or more perspectives into collaboration. The design was developed between SFU designers and the Office for Aboriginal Peoples. The image suggests Western perspective (SFU’s AQ) in partnership with the Indigenous perspective (Longhouse façade) to advance Truth and Reconciliation.

Honouring the National Truth and Reconciliation Day

September 29, 2021

From the unceded, traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, on which the SFU Vancouver campus and the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue building are located, we respectfully acknowledge the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Our staff and students are encouraged to learn, reflect and engage in activities that honour the experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Understanding Reconciliation and Decolonization

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada notes that:

“Reconciliation is about establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the of the past, an acknowledgment of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.”

The Centre’s Commitment to Decolonization and Reconciliation

Dialogue is rooted in relationships. For us to do the work we do, in a good way, we must acknowledge, reflect and continuously learn about our colonial history and its ongoing impact on the conversations and spaces that make up our work. As a Centre within an educational institution with colonial roots, we must also be conscious that the atrocities committed at Indian Residential Schools across Canada were done in the name of education. This creates the foundation from which we can work together in collaboration to address harms, uphold Indigenous knowledge and reimagine more just relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

Our Pledge

Through the participatory process for creating Beyond Inclusion, a guide to support equity in public participation, we heard from Indigenous knowledge holders and advisors on the importance of establishing respectful relationships with Indigenous Peoples, including recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral ties to these lands, as well as their inherent and distinct treaty, constitutional and human rights. As engagement practitioners, we formally commit as an institution to the principles co-created through this process, including to:

  • Learn how our engagement topics impact Indigenous Peoples;
  • Acknowledge and equitably address the impacts of past and present-day colonialism;
  • Honour and centre Indigenous knowledge and worldviews;
  • Foster reciprocal and collaborative relationships with Indigenous Peoples; and
  • Advance reconciliation and decolonization at an organizational and systemic level.

The full relevant excerpt from the Beyond Inclusion guide is included at the end of this post.

Ways to Honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

As we consider how each of us are personally going to recognize this day, we have identified some ways to support reconciliation:

Full Text from Principle 3: Establish Respectful Relationships with Indigenous Peoples, in Beyond Inclusion: Equity in Public Engagement.

In recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral ties to these lands and their inherent and distinct Treaty, constitutional and human rights, engagement practitioners hold a responsibility to work in a spirit of reconciliation in all engagement processes—whether they are specifically engaging Indigenous Peoples, or engaging other communities on ancestral Indigenous territories.

This responsibility for reconciliation can be enacted in different ways, including by acknowledging and equitably addressing the impacts of past and present-day colonialism; honouring and centering Indigenous knowledge and worldviews; fostering trusting, reciprocal and collaborative relationships with Indigenous Peoples; and advancing reconciliation and decolonization at an organizational and systemic level.

Actions to advance these principles can include:

  • Familiarize yourself with the lands, history, culture, protocols and governance structure of the Indigenous communities you are engaging and/or on whose ancestral territories the engagement takes place. Keep in mind that urban settings are often home to Indigenous people from multiple Nations.
  • Make time for relationship building. Building personal relationships should precede engagement planning and sustaining strong relationships should be one of the central goals of practising engagement.
  • Follow the lead of Indigenous communities. Respect community decisions and cede power and space for Indigenous people to lead the engagement. Recognize that your engagement may not be the first time the community has worked on this matter.
  • Prioritize reciprocity. Work with the community to ensure the engagement process supports their economic social and cultural well-being, and that outcomes address their priorities and lead to positive systems change.
  • Centre Indigenous knowledge and worldviews. In consultation with Indigenous community knowledge keepers, respectfully incorporate Indigenous protocols and cultural elements, such as land acknowledgments, ceremonies, language or traditional foods. Consider how the engagement can reflect Indigenous ways of knowing or values such as holism, respect, connectivity or spirituality. However, be careful not to apply “pan-Indigenous approach” or appropriate Indigenous culture by using cultural element without full understanding, permission or due credit—always ask first.
  • Provide culturally relevant health and wellness supports for participants, staff and volunteers when engaging with sensitive topics—such as spaces and materials for ceremony, or support from Indigenous Elders or healers. Build in time to meaningfully discuss issues of importance rather than rushing through something that clearly holds meaning. Providing compensation also shows consideration and respect for participants’ time and well-being.
  • Develop an organizational strategy to advance action for reconciliation, decolonization and anti-racism within the engagement as well as at a systemic level, such as through policy reviews and ongoing professional development.
  • Build public awareness and prepare non-Indigenous participants for informed and respectful dialogue by including information about Indigenous rights, the impacts of colonialism and steps toward reconciliation (in relation to your engagement topic) in preliminary material.