5th annual National Building Reconciliation
SAULT STE. MARIE – Algoma University, a former residential school in Sault Ste. Marie, is sharing the hosting of an important three day conference called the National Building Reconciliation forum.
"We think that hosting on a former residential school site is going to really engage the hearts and the spirit of what we're trying to do as we recommit to the next five years of reconciliation," said Asima Vezina, Algoma University President.
This is the first time the forum is taking place in Sault Ste. Marie, and approximately 250 delegates are gathered, including university presidents and Indigenous leaders, representing over a hundred Canadian schools.
"It's important for us to have the caliber of people that are here in attendance so that we can make sure that the students also are able to have an opportunity to hear a lot of these things that are going to be talked about as far as how we can move together into the future," said Chief Dean Sayers, Batchewana First Nation.
The three day event features a series of lectures and workshops about truth and reconciliation, and how to incorporate indigenous culture and history into school curriculums.
"It's important that we acknowledge the truth of the country's history with its First Nation peoples. And I think, I hope, if we have truthful few days here and we learn from each other, we listen to each other, that it'll be very productive," said Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano.
"We're always looking for meaningful engagement and meaningful conversations about that relationship that we need to build with our institutions," expressed Chief Andy Rickard, Garden River First Nation.
Vezina echoes this sentiment and says relationship building is key.
"We're got to really start think about what does relationship and partnership really mean when we're working with, together, with our First Nation communities," he said.
Vezina adds that this forum is an important learning opportunity for students, as she says it's the young people who are going to create change in the future.
The closing ceremony takes place Thursday afternoon.