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Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Jun 4
Tags: students, all updates

 

Kamloops, and small children under a prairie sky

When news broke of the unspeakably sad discovery of unidentified children's graves at the Kamloops Residential School, several images surfaced in my mind.

Before I share those images with you, I need to express my grief at the Kamloops discovery, and my belief that it is but the most recent, and until now the most shocking, in a series of discoveries that will continue across the country.

On Monday, Associate Vice-President (Indigenous Engagement) Lori Campbell wrote movingly to the campus about the Regina Indian Industrial School, on the site of which at least 38 children were buried. Her eloquent message concludes with an invitation to remember “those that did not come home.”

University of Regina Board of Governors member and alumnus Chief Cadmus Delorme, Chief of the Cowessess First Nation east of Regina, has announced his community's efforts to find and identify remains of those who “did not come home” from Marieval Indian Residential School, one of more than 20 residential schools that operated in Saskatchewan. Several First Nations, including Muskowekwan in Saskatchewan and others across the country, are taking similar steps.

So what are the images, the memories, that I spoke of? Last summer, I was honoured with an invitation to a sundance at Piapot First Nation in the Qu’Appelle Valley north of Regina. I recall getting out of the car after arriving on that warm June day, and taking in the beauty of the rolling hills that form the community's landscape and home. I recall greeting those present, and being welcomed there.

Most vividly, however, I recall the small children who were there, ceremonially dressed, clearly loved and cherished by the community. Seeing the children as they took their part in the ceremony under the endless prairie sky, the whole of their lives stretching out ahead of them, was profoundly moving. It is heart-wrenching to confront the fact that, had those small children been born in the era of residential schools, some of them would have died of neglect, starvation, abuse, and preventable illness. And they would have died while forcibly separated from their families.

If you haven't yet heard it, I invite you to listen to Senator Murray Sinclair's statement on the Kamloops discovery. He says that “there are lots of sites similar to Kamloops that are going to come to light,” and speaks of the need “for all of Canada to understand the magnitude of the truth of this experience.”

May we honour his words, and honour the memory of the children who died far from those who loved them.

Celebrating Queen City Pride – 4-13 June

Today marks the beginning of the 4-13 June 2021 Queen City Pride Festival – a time to celebrate people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions, and honour the important contributions they make in our communities.

The University of Regina’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, kahkiyaw kiwâhkômâkaninawak, has well-being and belonging as one of its key areas of focus. I am pleased that to honour this commitment – and as part of our ongoing efforts to build a University and community free from discrimination – the U of R is participating in the Queen City Pride Festival as well as Pride Month, which runs until the end of June.

From 4-13 June, the main campus’ southwest sign will be lit up in the colors of the Pride flag as part of the Queen City Pride Festival celebrations. Throughout June, the University’s 2SLGBTQIA+ community – including students, faculty, staff, and alumni - will be celebrated on social media and on the University website through a variety of posts and features.

I encourage readers across the province to visit the Queen City Pride Festival website to learn how you may participate in some of the many in-person and virtual events taking place.

Thank you to everyone in our University community for your efforts to make our institution – and indeed the wider provincial community that surrounds and supports us - welcoming, safe, and inclusive for everyone.

Quick notes

  • ... Tayef Ahmed, who served for the past couple of summers as co-ordinator of the RPIRG Green Patch Garden just south of the Dr John Archer Library, recently noted that Jordan Balfour has taken over the role for 2021, the garden’s tenth anniversary. Those wishing to volunteer in the garden to help Jordan care for the approximately 2,000 pounds of fresh produce that will be shared with community organizations this year may find more information here, and may contact him directly at garden@rpirg.org. Thank you, Tayef and Jordan ...
  • ... and in closing, with the provincial COVID-19 vaccination program well underway and vaccines now being administered at a variety of sites including pharmacies across the province, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has now decommissioned the clinic that has been hosted in the Centre for Kinesiology and Health Studies since late March. I want to thank everyone at the University who helped provide this public service when it was needed for the people of Saskatchewan.

Sincerely,

Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor