Truth and Reconciliation Entrustment Ceremony

January 13, 2017

Remarks on the occasion of the presentation of the Report of the University of Toronto Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome. I am honoured to be part of this ceremony today. And, on behalf of the University of Toronto, I am honoured and greatly humbled to receive the committee’s report and the eagle feather that accompanies it. Thank you.

As we embark upon a year of celebration to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, we cannot lose sight of the work that needs to be done before we can truly celebrate a country that welcomes the centrality of Indigenous peoples. Respecting this truth, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its Calls to Action thirteen months ago. It was a turning point for our country, a recognition that Canada must rebuild its relationship with Indigenous peoples. Acknowledging the truth, as the TRC made clear, is the vital first step.

The University of Toronto acknowledges its responsibility in contributing to the plight of Indigenous peoples. And we embrace the opportunity to engage with Indigenous communities and, together, lead the process of reconciliation.

Twelve months ago, the Provost and I struck a University-wide steering committee to offer advice on how to implement the Commission’s Calls to Action. Let me express my gratitude to the Committee members directly. As members of this committee, and in crafting this report, you have dedicated much time and energy. You have considered the University’s mission and the principles that ground our academic community. Undoubtedly, you have struggled with complex, difficult, and emotional questions. You have contributed your insights, knowledge, and expertise – and perhaps you have shared your own personal experience and family history too. You have performed a great service for the University of Toronto, for the wider U of T community, and for Canada.

On behalf of our entire community, I would like to express our most sincere appreciation to all members of the committee, its working groups, and contributors. To the students, alumni, staff, and faculty members; and to the Elders and the Committee’s Co-Chairs: thank you. Thank you also for now entrusting us – both the central administration and the leadership across our many faculties and colleges and our three campuses – with your report.

We shall take your words to heart. And we shall embrace the opportunity to work with Indigenous communities, both inside and outside the University, and to engage the wider U of T community, as we address your Calls to Action.

I very much look forward to reading this report, even though I know it will be challenging. But I also know – as Elder Andrew Wesley told us so eloquently, moments ago – that we will have the eagle feather to remind us of the spirit in which the report is offered and received and the opportunity that lies ahead as we honour truth and reconciliation.

Let me conclude by acknowledging Jenny Blackbird’s remarkable drumming performance and Lisa Boivin’s strikingly beautiful artwork.

Thank you, everyone, for being here today. Miigwetch.

Read the U of T News article about the event.