Dean's Message on Truth and Reconciliation, September 2022


With its 
final report released in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 Calls to Action. One of those Calls was the public commemoration of the history of residential schools and the honouring of Survivors, their families and communities. Knowing and telling the truth are where this commemoration begins. We need the truth to attain a collective understanding of the complex history of settler colonialism in this country as well its legacy and ongoing impacts. This truth includes the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc’s announcement in May 2021 of the unmarked graves found at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.  This truth includes the staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people reported by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that delivered its own 231 individual Calls for Justice.  This truth includes the lack of safe drinking water in numerous Indigenous communities and First Nations throughout Canada, in egregious violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars in this Faculty, across the humanities, social sciences and fine and performing arts, are undertaking the hard work of decolonization and Indigenization. Through their teaching, scholarship, service, creative activity and research with, by and for Indigenous communities, they are addressing truths about genocide, intergenerational trauma, broken treaties, self-governance, and cultural heritage policies, among others. They are promoting the value of Indigenous resurgence, place-based knowledge and language revitalization; they are seeking the guidance of Indigenous Elders and other cultural advisors in their classrooms, conferences and meetings. It is the crucial work of Indigenous Arts researchers, instructors, support staff and leaders that I particularly wish to recognize as we approach the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I offer my immense gratitude for their perseverance and dedication in advancing their disciplines and workspaces in ways that make room for the multiple voices, experiences and worldviews of future generations of Indigenous students and scholars. IPIA (Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archeology), CILLDI (Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute) and AWGII (Arts Working Group for Indigenous Initiatives) are among the Indigenous-focused units and programs within the Faculty of Arts doing such work as well. They engage directly in the reconciliatory practice of integrating Indigenous ways of knowing and being into research and teaching. 

On behalf of the Faculty of Arts, I acknowledge that the University of Alberta is located in Edmonton or Amiskwaciy (in Cree), kaghik-stak-etomo (in Niitsitapi) or chaba hei (in Nakota)—a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous Peoples including the Nehiyawak (Cree), Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Nakota Sioux, Métis, Papaschase, Tsuut’ina, Anishinaabe (Ojibway/Saulteaux), Inuit, and many others. The presence of Indigenous Peoples, along with Canada’s settler-invader history, shapes the lives we live and the lands and territories we are on. As the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, I commit myself and our Faculty to addressing the truth of colonialism and pursuing the difficult work of undoing harm, with dedicated efforts toward fostering the robust growth of Indigenous-led and Indigenous-focused spaces of teaching, learning and research.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts
Dr. Robert Wood