First Annual National Forum
From Nov. 18 to 19, 2015, the University of Saskatchewan was honoured to host a national forum: Building Reconciliation: Universities Answering the TRC's Calls to Action—a two-day event for Canadian university presidents and their leadership teams, First Nations and Métis leaders, student leaders, Aboriginal scholars and scholars dedicated to research that is meaningful to Aboriginal peoples. The forum was in response to the 94 calls to action, part of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The U of S forum focused on how universities could respond to the urgent calls to action directed at post-secondary institutions, following up on Universities Canada's 13 principles on Indigenous education. As a part of this forum, the U of S, along with all other post-secondary educational institutions in Saskatchewan, declared its commitment to closing the education gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
The forum was a well-attended event with representation from across the country as post-secondary and Aboriginal leaders sought to develop strategies to fulfil the calls to action of the TRC.
Second Annual National Forum
The University of Alberta held the second annual Building Reconciliation forum on Sept. 28 and 29, 2016 to build on the important work that started at the U of S the previous year.
In officially transferring the responsibilities of holding the forum, a ceremonial walking stick—a symbol of gathering and truth telling—was gifted to the University of Alberta by U of S Chancellor Blaine Favel. The walking stick, adorned with the logos of the host universities, will be a visual representation and reminder of the important role that universities have in working toward reconciliation.
For this event, the U of S sent 19 student, faculty and senior administrative representatives to continue the progress that had already been made. At the event, the delegates attended sessions about the experiences of Indigenous students in universities, incorporating Indigenous content into program requirements, conducting community-engaged research and working together to address common issues. They also heard keynote addresses from former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, former Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge Lorna Williams, and Manitoba Member of the Legislative Assembly Wab Kinew.