YU Staff and Faculty Honour Truth & Reconciliation with Day of Reflection


September 27, 2021

Yorkville University will honour Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by providing its faculty and staff with the day off to reflect.

Yorkville University President Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes
Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes

“Sept. 30, 2021 is a day that the federal government announced as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and we decided that, as a sign of respect and our deep commitment to reconciliation, we wanted to provide all of our employees with the day off,” said Yorkville’s President, Dr. Julia Christensen Hughes in a recent Town Hall.

“It’s not just a day off, but, more importantly, a day to reflect on the hard work that needs to be done to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities and members of our own community.”

Federally designated as a statutory holiday this past June, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation seeks to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities, ensuring that public commemoration of their history and the legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.  

With those goals in mind, Yorkville University’s has curated a number of enlightening events – both past and present – for faculty, staff, and students to tune into, as well as a list of resources the entire school community is encouraged to access on Sept. 30.

Firstly, Yorkville is partnering up with its affiliate school, Toronto Film School, to host a special screening of Mi’kmaw actor/filmmaker Tim Myles’ new short film, Little Bird, which recently made its world premiere at TIFF. The 15-minute, semi-autobiographical film, tells the story of a young Indigenous man who finds strength in family while processing the death of his mother.

Hosted by Toronto Film School’s Emmy-winning President, Andrew Barnsley, the Little Bird screening will take place at The Royal Cinema, 608 College St., on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m., followed by a Q&A panel discussion featuring Myles, who directed and starred in the film, and co-stars Lisa Nasson and Cheri Maracle.

A limited number of tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis as of this Friday, Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. here. For those unable to attend in person, the event will also be livestreamed at https://create.torontofilmschool.ca/screening/littlebird/ 

Yorkville University Webinars

Yorkville University’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Thamina Jaferi, has also curated a list of past webinars hosted by the school that speak to Truth and Reconciliation themes. They include:

Ask an Expert | Talking About Healing, Relationships and Reconciliation

Hosted during National Indigenous Heritage Month, the session saw Yorkville professor, Dr. Lois Edge – a member of the Northwest Territories Métis Nation – discuss the topic of Indigenous reconciliation and healing. It explores the intergenerational legacy of residential schools on Indigenous peoples and emphasizes the types of actions we, as faculty and staff, and as an institution can take to become more aware of this dark period of Canadian history and how to remove barriers toward Indigenous inclusion at Yorkville University.

Ask an Expert | Infusing Culture & Spirituality into Stress Management

In times of uncertainty, we can often find our bodies and minds stressed out. In this Ask an Expert session, Yorkville University invited Dr. Julie Smith to discuss how she infuses her traditional First Nations practices into her stress management and self-care regime and to offer tips on how students can use their own cultural and spiritual tools to help them make it through difficult times in their lives.

Other Resources

Jaferi has also compiled a listing of online resources she’s encouraging every member of the school community to access, including:

Government of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action

To redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called on governments, educational and religious institutions, civil society groups and all Canadians to take action on the 94 Calls to Action it identified. Jaferi recommends Yorkville staff and faculty pay particular attention to those calls to action that focus on Education for Reconciliation and Business and Reconciliation.

Indspire’s Summary of Findings on the Post-Secondary Experience of Indigenous Students Following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

In July and August of 2018, Indspire sent a survey to 2,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis students enrolled in post-secondary programs across Canada, seeking their insight and perspective on how the Calls to Action released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had affected their educational experience. The summary of their findings are listed in this document.

Catalyst’s Report on Building Inclusion for Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Workplaces

A long history of colonialism, genocide, and racism has led to inequities in many facets of life for Indigenous Peoples living on the land now called Canada. In the workplace, Indigenous Peoples are underrepresented, suffer a wage gap and often experience isolation because of a lack of Indigenous role models at senior levels. Additionally, they are regularly surrounded by managers, colleagues, and senior executives who do not truly understand their history and cultures or the burdens they carry.

This Catalyst survey shows Indigenous Peoples also pay an emotional tax at work and experience low levels of psychological safety. The study findings point to actions managers and team members can take to build the understanding, relationships, and work environments that will help Indigenous Peoples belong, contribute, and thrive in the workplace.