A key figure in the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will be speaking at TRU on Oct. 26. Justice Murray Sinclair, speaking as part of the seventh annual TRUSU Storyteller’s Gala, will deliver a lecture on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in relation to educational institutions.
Justice Sinclair was the Chair of the TRC upon its conclusion and also holds the distinction of being Manitoba’s first aboriginal judge. According to Paul Michel, TRU Aboriginal Education’s executive director, Sinclair’s lecture will be focused on the TRC’s calls to action for universities.
Sinclair is not charging a speaker’s fee for the lecture.
The event is a part of both the Storyteller’s Gala and the President’s Lecture Series, but Michel gave full credit to TRUSU for booking Sinclair. Michel said that just as they were considering Justice Sinclair for the President’s Lecture Series, TRUSU announced that they had already booked him.
According to TRUSU’s Aboriginal Representative, Sonya Charley, TRUSU’s equity committee has been working on the Storyteller’s Gala since the summer. TRUSU has hosted high profile lectures on First Nations’ equity issues at the Storyteller’s Gala for the past six years. Recent speakers have included First Nations’ author Richard Wagamese and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine.
According to both Michel and Charley, TRU has already made efforts to improve aboriginal education and indigenize the campus.
“With [Sinclair’s] visit, the benefit of that is it gives an excellent opportunity for Thompson Rivers University to respond to our current efforts in indigenizing our campus,” said Michel.
According to Michel, the process of indigenizing the campus will be based on making the campus more welcome for First Nations students and educating the student body on a number of First Nations issues. Some of the issues Michel mentioned were why the TRC was needed, legal decisions on land title, social challenges in aboriginal communities and historic oppression and trauma through residential schools. Michel also said he would like to see indigenous subject matter included within academic programs.
The Storyteller’s Gala will also feature a number of other activities preceding Sinclair’s speech. According to a tentative schedule drafted by Michel, activities will include an interactive workshop on aboriginal philosophy and an update on the state of aboriginal education in Canada.
“The larger student body has an opportunity to learn about the powerful dynamic recommendations associated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
The Storyteller’s Gala will take place on Oct. 26 in the Campus Activity Centre, with Sinclair’s speech beginning at 7 p.m.