Left to right:
Garry Robson, elder; David Barnard, President and
Vice-Chancellor; Deborah Young, Executive Lead,
“We feel it’s important to stand with
our Aboriginal students, staff and faculty in making this
statement of reconciliation,” said Barnard.
“Our best opportunity
for a brighter future is
to build a foundation of
academic success and
ensure that the values
of First Nations, Métis
and Inuit cultures and
scholarship and research
across the university.”
Barnard said post-secondary
institutions did not fund or operate Indian Residential
Schools. However, the University of Manitoba failed to recognize and
challenge the Indian Residential School System and its damaging policies.
“We did not live up to our goals, our
ideals, our hard-earned reputation or our mandate,”
Barnard. “Our institution failed to recognize or challenge
the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the
subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions.
That was a grave mistake. It is our responsibility. We are
The president said the university also
educated clergy, teachers and politicians who created and
ran the residential school system.
Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of
the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a University of
Manitoba graduate. He was present at the address.
“What we have witnessed here in Halifax
today is the first time an institute of learning has
publicly recognized its role in the Indian residential
school system, and how much they deeply regret their role.
However, the University of Manitoba is becoming a leader in
Aboriginal education and has committed to further their
efforts in order to ensure the success of Aboriginal
graduates. This is great and welcomed news and I am pleased
to have been a part of it,” said Fontaine.
Fontaine helped form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
in 2008. It was a result of the historical Indian Residential School
settlement and subsequent apology by the Canadian
Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Manitoba Deputy Premier and Aboriginal
and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson also praised the University for this landmark statement.
“As a residential school survivor and a
minister, I am inspired by the leadership taken by the
University of Manitoba,”
“Reconciliation is about real change
and it involves all of us,”
said Atleo. “I commend the
University of Manitoba for its participation in the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission. Steps like this can help
advance mutual respect and understanding between First
Nations and other Canadians and generate the action needed
to create lasting change.”