Mount Saint Vincent University apologizes for ties to residential school system

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HALIFAX – Increased funding for Indigenous students and more Indigenous course content are two of the pledges made Wednesday by Nova Scotia’s Mount Saint Vincent University as part of its apology for links to the residential school system.

The drums and vocals were performed as part of the school’s apology and engagement ceremony at wikuom on the Mount Saint Vincent campus – also known as wigwam – in Halifax.

During the ceremony, acting university president Ramona Lumpkin noted that the school’s founders and former owners, the Sisters of Charity Halifax, had members who worked in boarding schools in Nova Scotia and in British Columbia.

“We will accompany members of the Indigenous community on a healing journey, recognizing that the truth must be heard and recognized in order to advance long-term lasting change,” Lumpkin said in a statement.

Members of the Sisters of Charity were stationed at the Shubenacadie boarding school, which opened from 1930 to 1967, about 60 kilometers north of Halifax, and at the Cranbrook boarding school in southeastern British Columbia in the late 19th century. century to 1970.

In the text of its apology, the university says its responsibility extends to the actions – and inactions – shared by other Canadian universities.

“We educated people who worked in schools and others who took their place in a society that disregards treaties and aboriginal rights,” he says.

“For many years we did not address the exclusion of Aboriginal youth from the benefits and advantages of a university education. We were often ignorant, sometimes just silent, of the damage inflicted on children by residential schools: our teachers did not teach this story.

Joined by Indigenous community leaders, residential school survivors and university officials, Lumpkin said Indigenous counselors at the school have made it clear that the institution should continue to work to create programs and services at the school. benefit of indigenous peoples.

The apology comes after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia announced in May that it had used ground penetrating radar to locate the remains of more than 200 children long believed to have been missing from the residential school which operated there between 1890 and 1969. Since then, other Aboriginal nations have reported finding anonymous graves using similar search methods.

“We apologize to all of you who survived residential schools, to your families and communities, and to all Indigenous peoples,” Lumpkin said. “Each recovery of a child’s unmarked grave has compounded our grief at the immense injustice committed across our country as children were torn from their language, culture and family.

Lumpkin then described Mount Saint Vincent’s commitments to the Indigenous community, including re-establishing an Elder-in-Residence program that will allow Indigenous Elders to be part of the campus community.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 20, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.


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