On this day of Truth and Reconciliation, we reflect on the tragedies that occurred at the residential schools and we are reminded that every child matters. As the Dean of the Faculty of Education, I am averse to calling those institutions “schools”. Schools are a place to advance learning, to open one’s mind to new ideas and diverse opinions; to mentor and collaborate with each child so they become the best they can be throughout their lives. Schools are where we better ourselves through insightful human relations, collaborations and nurturing mentorships. For the school experience to have been anything short of that is heartbreaking, and for it to have led to child graves is beyond horrific.
How do we learn from our tragic past and move forward? Education will play a vital role. It is through education that we will provide every Indigenous child and adult with the best inclusive learning resources, support networks, and opportunities to thrive. It is through Education that we will advance curriculums that share the stories of our Indigenous peoples with respect and empathy, both in today’s classrooms and for generations to come.
McGill’s Faculty of Education has a 40-year history partnering with Quebec’s Indigenous peoples through our Office of First Nations and Inuit Education (OFNIE). These meaningful collaborations enable us to provide teacher education programs in more than 20 Indigenous communities across Quebec, and to value land-based learning initiatives. The Faculty has also been active with non-Indigenous students, providing courses in Indigenous Education and Professional Engagement with Indigenous Peoples of Canada, and supporting a variety of events and research initiatives with Indigenous peoples.
Today, we pay our respects to our Indigenous colleagues, students, partners, and friends, and we pledge that our partnerships in education, teaching and research will serve to support Indigenous communities, advancing all principles of Truth and Reconciliation.
Dean, Faculty of Education