University of Winnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Annette Trimbee today attended the grand opening of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. UWinnipeg is a partner institution in the Centre with input on the governance design, planning and launch and will remain active in the partners circle, collaborating on research within the archives.
The Centre contains a vast collection of documents, oral history and other records that detail the systematic and intentional attempt to assimilate the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, as well as incredible accounts of strength and perseverance.
“We congratulate the University of Manitoba for preserving this collection for current and future scholars, and honouring the memories of survivors,” said Trimbee. “The courageous first-hand accounts of the Residential School system form an irrefutable historical record. Understanding our shared past is our collective responsibility and it is fundamental as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians move together towards a deeper reconciliation.”
The Centre is part of the living legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was chaired by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, who will be honoured by the University of Winnipeg as the Duff Roblin award recipient on November 17. The TRC issued a series of recommendations in June which include ways for the education sector to be part of a new relationship.
“The University of Winnipeg is committed to implementing the recommendations of the TRC, the Indigenization of our academy, and to building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” said Trimbee. “Understanding a plurality of world views makes the educational experience richer for all. We proudly begin our meetings on campus by acknowledging that we are located on Treaty One land, in the heart of the Métis homeland. The treaties are agreements which opened up these lands for settlement, and are fundamental to Canada.”
UWinnipeg is one of the top universities in the country for Indigenous participation: 12% of incoming students this year self-identify as First Nation, Metis and Inuit. UWinnipeg’s Senate recently approved, in principle, a degree requirement that would see all undergraduate students complete coursework with an Indigenous focus before they graduate.
In keeping with the TRC recommendation to preserve the languages of Indigenous people, UWinnipeg currently offers Ojibway and Cree as a credit course for students and as a free community program at Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, recognizing that language is critically important to the preservation of identity and unique world views.