About Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's honours National Aboriginal Day

20 June, 2016

Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray Tuesday, June 21st is National Aboriginal Day. It is a day set aside to acknowledge and celebrate Aboriginal history and culture. It is also a day to look toward the future.

Saint Mary’s University sits on the land of the Mi’kmaw. We will recognize this on Tuesday by flying the Mi’kmaw flag on campus  by acknowledging that we are visitors on this land.

Saint Mary’s is Canada’s International university and because of this distinction we pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to students from around the world. We also extend that welcome to our Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Through recommendations made in the report of the President’s Task Force on Aboriginal Students and the government’s Truth and Reconciliation Report, Saint Mary’s is instituting and developing new and better ways to support our Indigenous students.

Earlier this month Dr. Trudy Sable was appointed Director of Indigenous Education. Dr. Sable has over 25 years of experience working directly with Indigenous peoples and addressing the issues and challenges they face. Her leadership and experience will continue to advance Indigenous education at Saint Mary’s.

This advancement has already started with a number of initiatives, including the opening of an Aboriginal student space on campus - a dedicated on-campus location for Indigenous students to meet, work, share and collaborate, or as succinctly put by Saint Mary’s Aboriginal Society President, Elora Gehue – “a place to call home”; flying the Mi’kmaw flag; the signing of MOU’s with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, the Union of Nova Scotia Indians, and the Innu Nation of Labrador; the future hiring of a full-time Indigenous student advisor; the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Council, and new curricula dedicated to Indigenous peoples’ culture and history.

This is just the beginning and we look forward to future initiatives and meaningful discussions with our Indigenous students and faculty.

Acknowledgement and respect of all cultures is extremely important at Saint Mary’s. Today on National Aboriginal Day I encourage all members of the Saint Mary’s community to explore and experience Aboriginal culture and history.

Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray
President, Saint Mary’s University

Twenty years ago, the Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, announced June 21, the summer solstice, as National Aboriginal Day through the Proclamation Declaring June 21 of Each Year as National Aboriginal Day. This was in response to numerous recommendations from, and consultations with, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, a process that spanned almost fifteen years.

Though a very significant recognition of Indigenous peoples’ contributions to the creation of Canada and its history, the history of Indigenous peoples dates back 8,000-13,000 years ago  depending on when the glaciers slowly moved off this land opening up the possibility for people to live and develop rich cultural traditions here. The deglaciation of this land  left the legacy of our eastern Canadian landscape as we know it today, and the history of that resides within the language and oral traditions, songs, and dances of the Indigenous peoples who currently reside here. Within that landscape, people developed vital cultures filled with deep obligations and relationships, systems of governance, and cultural expressions that reflect their relationship to this land. There will be many celebrations of these living traditions throughout Canada, and within the Atlantic Provinces, and I hope you will all join in and celebrate, learn, support, and connect with the Indigenous peoples on this day.

As part of the celebration, we will be premiering our film, "Wi’kupaltimk: Feast of Forgiveness”  a film about Urban Aboriginal food security at 9:00 a.m. at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre on Gottingen Street.  The film was directed by filmmaker and multiple Gemini and Genie award recipient, Kent Martin, and Salina Kemp, M.A. student at Saint Mary’s from the Millbrook First Nation, and produced by myself and Pam Glode-Derochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friend ship Centre.  All are welcome.

Thank you.

Trudy Sable, PhD.
Director, Indigenous Education, Saint Mary’s University