U of T community celebrates Indigenous Education Week – The Varsity


From October 31 to November 4, U of T held its Indigenous Education Week, with the theme “Death and Dying”. Events included performances; lectures on systematic racism in health care, community healing and day schools; and trainings, and took place both in person and online.

Conference “Natural Law”

The 2022 Dr. Marguerite (Peggy) Hill Memorial Lecture on Indigenous Health took place November 3, with Morningstar keynote speaker Wednesday. The event was presented by the Medical Alumni Association, Temerty School of Medicine’s Office of Indigenous Health, and the Center for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health at Women’s College Hospital.

Dr. Jason Pennington, General Surgeon at Scarborough General Hospital and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, began by outlining Dr. Marguerite (Peggy) Hill’s remarkable journey in medicine and her profound contributions to patient-centred care. patient. St. Michael’s Hospital anesthetist Dr. David McKnight later delivered an earth acknowledgment and then called Kawennanoron elder Cindy White, who offered a message of thanksgiving before the start of the event.

Emily Simmonds, a researcher at the Center for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health, then introduced Mercredi, a multimedia creator and advocate for the criminalization of forced and coerced sterilization of Indigenous, Métis and Inuit women. Mercredi has used its expertise in many channels of artistic expression to raise awareness of systemic racism towards Indigenous communities, particularly in the context of the Canadian healthcare system.

During his talk, titled “Natural Law,” Wednesday spoke on the themes of collective grief, genocide and healing while sharing his experiences with the day school system – which the Canadian government and Christian churches have concurrently enforced. to the residential school system. She paid tribute to those who did not survive forced sterilization and described the visceral feelings of devastation that can accompany intergenerational trauma.

Wednesday also acknowledged the work of attorney Alisa Lombard, Dr. Maggie Hodgson and Buffy Sainte-Marie as inspirations, and highlighted the importance of federal Bill S-250, sponsored by Senator Yvonne Boyer. , which seeks to criminalize forced sterilization.

Simmonds then invited Elder White to join Wednesday in a discussion about the role of art and ceremony in the healing journey. At the end of the event, Elder White offered a message of gratitude and closed the event with an eagle song.

Tocani performance

On November 2, the Día de los Muertos Collective presented a performance by the Latin American multidisciplinary group Tocani in collaboration with Hart House and First Nations House. The Dia de Los Muertos collective is a non-profit organization made up of four artists who use a unique blend of music, dance and visual components to communicate ancient teachings and stories, some of which are centered in Latin America and ancestral mysticism. The show was a celebration and appreciation of the band’s and Turtle Island’s ancestry, honoring the relationships between indigenous cultures.

The musical, dance and visual elements of the performance, as well as the characters and costumes, brought to life ancient stories, contemporary teachings and narratives. One of the stories was about the devastating history of residential schools. Other tales included a story about the journey from youth to old age, as well as a story about wisdom, symbolized by an owl.

The show began with a purification ceremony. The room was then invaded by a combination of percussion and wind instruments – ancient drums, windpipes and shells – which connected the audience with ancestral sounds and stories. The show was split into two halves, with a musical interlude provided by two additional performers who played instruments and sang captivating melodies.

Other events for Indigenous Education Week included training students remotely on rreflection on the recognition of indigenous lands and the UTM Native Podcast Club. The Podcast Club now hosts a book club-style event every Wednesday at UTM Indigenous Center where students will listen to a podcast by an Indigenous content creator.

Later this month, the Office of Indigenous Initiatives will host a two-part training titled “Speaking Our Truths: The Journey to Reconciliation.” The event will take place online from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on November 17 and 24.


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