SFU Surrey and Orange Shirt Day

October 04, 2019

Orange Shirt Day, September 30, honours the memory of residential school survivors, and last week the SFU Surrey campus and SFU’s Office of Aboriginal People (OAP) joined with the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee (SUILC), the City of Surrey, Surrey Schools and Fraser Health to walk the talk—and remember... 

Under the direction of the OAP’s Gary George and Ron Johnston,  a group of SFU faculty, staff and students gathered on the Mezz and began a drumming walk over to Surrey City Hall, passing through the SFU Surrey campus’ recently opened second building on our way.

A big thanks to the Faculty of Education’s Celeste Snowber, who brought her entire class for the journey. VP Research and International, Joy Johnson, also joined the procession. 

Once the SFU contingent arrived at city hall, they joined the Orange Shirt Day program organized by SUILC. This included a stirring welcome and prayer songs by Kevin Kelly and Michael Kelly Gabriel for Kwantlen First Nation, and an address by City of Surrey Councilor, Brenda Locke.

The journey from SFU Surrey over to city hall took place on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, and we respectfully acknowledged the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo  Kwikwetlem, Qaylqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations, and the Metis and Inuit communities that call this region home.

On a personal note, I was totally humbled and honoured to be part of Orange Shirt day in Surrey. While we mourn the lost survivors, the annual event also plants seeds of hope, as different communities and organizations come together to remember the past in the hope it never happens again. Orange Shirt Day speaks loudly about the extent to which SFU, the City of Surrey, Surrey Schools, Fraser Health and other organizations, are on a good path—an example of how we are together focused on authentic reconciliation.