On Monday, April 9th, I invite you to join me in witnessing the fulfillment of a promise made by my predecessor, UBC President Stephen Toope, in 2013 – the opening of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC). At the opening, I will also make a Statement of Apology for UBC’s involvement in the system that supported the operation of the Indian Residential Schools. The schools operated for over a century in Canada and damaged the lives and cultures of many Indigenous individuals and communities.
The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. in the Koerner Plaza, 1958 Main Mall on the UBC Vancouver campus. The event will also be webcast at https://ceremonies.ubc.ca/irshdc-opening/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/universityofbc/videos/10156175745598704/.
Later that day, at 1:30 p.m., I will participate in a Facebook Live discussion about the Centre and about UBC’s role in the residential school system. The discussion will be hosted by First Nations and Indigenous Studies professor Sheryl Lightfoot. You can participate in the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/universityofbc/videos/10156175755478704/.
I hope you can join me for either – or both – of these events. The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre aims to capture the long trajectory of Indigenous and Canadian relations, and ensure that the history of Canada’s Indian residential schools will never be forgotten. As members of the UBC community, I hope you will take the time to pause and reflect with us on April 9.
The April 9th opening of the IRSHDC is the culmination of a series of events that began on September 18, 2013. On that day, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) began the last of its National Events to be held on the west coast. UBC suspended classes on that day, so that students, faculty, and staff could attend the historic event to hear from survivors and others about Indian residential schools and their experiences in them. Many others attended events on campus that addressed the history of this system.
In his remarks that day, President Toope indicated UBC’s interest in establishing a centre at UBC, affiliated with the National Centre established by the TRC in Winnipeg, which would provide access to records on the west coast for survivors, their families and communities. Equally significant, such a centre would inform many people, at the university and throughout our region, about this very important part of Indigenous and Canadian history.
The centre will be a place for former students and survivors of the Indian residential schools and their communities to access their records, for students and the public to explore the vast archival holdings and learn about the history and legacy of the schools through interactive technology, and for university and community members to meet in focused discussions about the uses of history and other collaborative projects.
For that and many other reasons, I hope that you can join me on April 9th to witness the opening of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.
Please visit https://ceremonies.ubc.ca/IRSHDC-opening/ for more information.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor