A breezy day helped unfurl a flag at Georgian College's Barrie campus on Wednesday as students, faculty and members of the Indigenous community gathered for a flag-raising ceremony.
The ceremony was held at the college’s cenotaph on Wednesday, Sept. 28, ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Saturday, Sept. 30.
Georgian College president and CEO Kevin Weaver described the symbolic importance of the event.
“We support Indigenous culture, history and knowledge, and we have a role to play, personally and institutionally, to make sure that we remember those impacted by residential schools,” he said. “There is a dark past, and we need to help with allyship to move past that.”
On a personal level, Weaver says he had learning and unlearning to do, and feels shame about the history of the past in Canada.
“Both personally and professionally, as the leader of this organization, I have a role to play, and I’m doing my own learning and spending time with our Indigenous community and elders, to learn, and figure out the best ways I can be an ally to support the culture,” he said.
Tiffany McCue, as the Indigenization initiatives lead at Georgian College, says one of her many roles at the school is to work with the larger college collective, ensuring that the 94 calls to action are being adhered to at the college level.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission published 94 “calls to action" urging all levels of government to work together to change their policies and programs in an effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and to move forward with reconciliation.
“The flag-raising symbolizes that Georgian stands with Indigenous people in honouring the history that truly exists within Canada, and recognizing that Georgian is committed to serving Indigenous communities and peoples, and making Georgian a safer place for Indigenous people,” McCue said.
“I’m an alumni here,” she added. “I graduated eight years ago from the Indigenous community and social development program, and I felt a home away from home here."
Several events are also planned in Barrie to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Saturday. For more information, click here.
For more on what the Barrie Native Friendship Centre has planned, click here.