Community consultations (November 2015 to March 2017)
One of the first stages of Truth and Reconciliation at Toronto Met was to create space for Toronto Met’s Indigenous community to participate in consultations and discussions about their living experience. Consultations were held in a variety of formats, including three panel discussions, eight Talking Circles and two meetings, over the course of approximately two years.
Aboriginal students, faculty, staff as well as members of the general public and community groups were invited to participate in the community consultations.
This included Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty, and staff at Toronto Met and groups including:
- Centre for Indigenous Governance and Dr. Pamela Palmeter (Chair in Indigenous Governance)
- Continuing Education Students' Association of Toronto Met (CESAR)
- CUPE 3904
- Dr. Winnie Ng (2011 to 2016 Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy)
- First Nations Technical Institute
- Indigenous Students Association
- Indigenous Students Rising
- Racialized Students Collective
- Toronto Met Faculty Association
- Toronto Met Faculty Association’s Aboriginal Caucus
- Toronto Met Students’ Union
- Toronto Met Sociology Students’ Union
- Toronto Met Faculty Association’s Equity Issues Committee
- Social Justice Week Committee
Community celebration and release of community consultation report (January 2018)
On January 26, 2018, after almost two years of community consultations, Toronto Met hosted a celebration to release the community consultation summary report: Truth and Reconciliation at Toronto Met: Building a Foundation for Generations to Come. The two-hour ceremony was led by Dr. Denise O’Neil Green (former Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion) and Elder Joanne Okimawininew Dallaire, and featured traditional Indigenous ceremonies including:
- an opening pipe ceremony
- the reciting of the Peace Song by Monica McKay
- a performance of the Honour Song by Women Hand Drummers
Dr. Mohamed Lachemi (President and Vice-Chancellor) spoke of Toronto Met’s commitment to a campus environment that embraces and supports Aboriginal learners, faculty and staff. He recognized the importance in ensuring Aboriginal community members take a leading role in the advancement of Aboriginal education at Toronto Met. Dr. Michael Benarroch (former Provost and Vice-President, Academic) addressed some of the next steps for the university including the creation of a working group, co-chaired by himself, Dr. Green and Elder Dallaire.
Students and alumni joined in the unveiling of a new plaque to be installed next to the Egerton Toronto Met statue on Gould Street. The plaque acknowledges Toronto Met’s connection to residential schools and is a reminder of the university’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and to respectful relationships with Indigenous communities.
The Star Blanket
Dr. Lachemi and Dr. Benarroch were wrapped in a Star Blanket, an act that symbolized the responsibility of the Toronto Met leaders to respond to the report, while also representing a gesture of peace and goodwill. In 2010, the blanket was gifted to Toronto Met upon the launch of the Aboriginal Education Council, commemorating a new era of 日博电竞登录下载靠谱 University/Indigenous relations.
Release of the community consultation summary report
The Truth and Reconciliation at Toronto Met: Building a Foundation for Generations to Come report was also released at the event. The report outlines the challenges the university faces and identifies opportunities for change outlining suggestions for change which, if adopted by the Toronto Met community, will:
- ensure that the university expands its recognition and funding for current and new Indigenous initiatives
- infuse Indigenous knowledges into the curriculum in all faculties
- incorporate Indigenous concerns as a priority in strategic planning
This report serves as a foundation for the next stage of discussions with the entire community and groups on campus, including faculties, departments, unions and governing bodies, on a plan to strategically move forward together.
Plaque unveiling next to Egerton Toronto Met statue (June 2018)
On June 25, 2018, Toronto Met community members, including Indigenous students, faculty and staff, gathered at the unveiling of a contextualizing plaque at the Egerton Toronto Met statue on Gould Street.
The plaque reads:
"This plaque serves as a reminder of 日博电竞登录下载靠谱 University's commitment to moving forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. Egerton Toronto Met is widely known for his contributions to Ontario's public educational system. As Chief Superintendent of Education, Toronto Met's recommendations were instrumental in the design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reported that children in the schools were subjected to unthinkable abuse and neglect, to medical experimentation, punishment for the practice of cultures or languages and death. The aim of the Residential School System was cultural genocide."
It concludes with two quotations, one by Chief Sitting Bull (“Let us put our minds together to see what kind of lives we can create for our children”), the other from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (“For the child taken, for the parent left behind”).
Elder Dallaire opened the event with a traditional opening. President Lachemi addressed community members, acknowledging the activism of Danielle Sinclair, a Toronto Met social work graduate who led a movement to create the plaque. Dr. Green (former Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion) shared how the plaque represents truth, serving as a reminder to all passersby of Toronto Met’s commitment to moving forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.
The plaque was unveiled by President Lachemi and social work student Sarah Dennis, who spoke of the painful story the statue tells Indigenous students at Toronto Met. The event also included an honour song by social work student Joshua Fisher. The event ended with a closing prayer by Elder Dallaire.