The 25th annual National Indigenous Peoples Day took place on Monday, June 21. This important day celebrates the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
At Humber, this day is traditionally a time for members of the community to celebrate the significant achievements of Indigenous people at the college - students, staff, and faculty members. However, this is a unique year in challenging times. Many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people continue to be impacted by the discovery of the 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia. A vivid and heartbreaking reminder of the ongoing legacy and ripple effects of the residential school system in Canada. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples as details emerge about unmarked graves found at the site of another residential school - this one in Saskatchewan. On a day that would typically be marked with celebrations, this year it is a much more sombre, reflective mood on the truth and reconciliation work that must continue.
The substantial achievements of our Indigenous students and staff are a reminder of how the Humber community is enriched by the opportunity to learn from the intellectual and cultural traditions from Indigenous cultures and histories.
“I’m proud of our team for continuing to offer so many programs and events during the challenges of the past year. I’ve been inspired by Humber’s commitment to furthering Indigenous education and look forward to continuing this journey together. This is such an important day for Indigenous people to celebrate everything they’ve accomplished, but also realize that there is much more work to be done,” said Jason Seright, dean of Indigenous Education and Engagement.
Over the past several years, Humber has further demonstrated its commitment to Indigenous Education and Truth and Reconciliation in its strategic, operational and academic plans. The college’s efforts were officially recognized earlier in 2021 when Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) awarded Humber the Gold Medal in Indigenous Education Excellence.
During the pandemic, Humber’s Indigenous Education and Engagement department has continued to engage students and staff with a wide range of programs and services offered virtually.
“On a personal note, I would add that the day provides us an opportunity to educate others and reenergize the pride in ourselves. For many years this was not done as culture, language and teachings were banned or not recognized. We are gaining those back and doing it with pride as to who we are and recognize our own strength and resilience,” said Seright.
Many more important programs, events and initiatives are being developed by Indigenous Education and Engagement in partnership with departments and Faculties across Humber. For the latest information, visit humber.ca/indigenous.