Centennial College to close on September 30 to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
In keeping with its focus on social justice issues – and after consulting with Indigenous community members and the college’s Aboriginal Education Council – Centennial College will be cancelling classes and suspending operations on September 30 to facilitate a day of reflection and learning for its students and employees.
The Canadian government declared September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and made it a federal statutory holiday in response to a long-standing call from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report, and after the recent discovery of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. Centennial made the decision to cancel classes so that students and staff could honour the day appropriately.
“It is our expectation that all members of our campus community will be engaging in a day of learning and reflection to honour survivors, their families and communities, and to ensure that commemoration of the legacy of residential schools remains a vital part of the reconciliation process,” says Dr. Craig Stephenson, president and CEO, Centennial College. Students and staff will be encouraged to wear orange on September 29 and engage in educational opportunities in preparation for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Previously, Centennial College recognized Orange Shirt Day in response to the legacy of St. Joseph’s Mission (SJM), a residential school in Williams Lake, B.C. When survivor Phyllis Webstad was six years old she received a new orange shirt to wear on her first day of school, but when she arrived at SJM, Phyllis was stripped and had all her clothes, including her new shirt, taken away.
Phyllis’s story illustrates the de-humanizing tyranny of the residential school system. September 30 has become a day of commemoration and awareness raising, in part because it marks the time of year when Indigenous children were taken from their families to live in Canada’s residential schools.
Students and staff are asked to don the colour orange and utilize a wide range of Indigenous resources, as well as attend events on September 30 to learn more about Canada’s residential school system. Among the activities students and staff are encouraged to attend include one of the healing gatherings for residential/day schools and the intergenerational survivors, either online or in person.
Learning and development is a critical part of Centennial’s education mission; in particular, and integral to the college’s Indigenous Strategic Framework, to “promote dialogue, partnerships and public initiatives with citizens of Indigenous nations and members of Indigenous communities to foster reconciliation.”
Learn more about Orange Shirt Day