Kwantlen Polytechnic University Students Speak Out About Canada's Residential School System

Sun, Jun 5, 2011



For immediate release

Kwantlen Polytechnic University Students Speak Out About Canada's Residential School System

METRO VANCOUVER, BC – (June 6, 2011) – Kwantlen Polytechnic University students will join Residential School survivors, First Nations members, drummers and singers at a public education symposium on June 11, 2011 to learn about some of the consequences of Canada's infamous residential school system. The symposium is the second event in a multi-year project, initiated by Seema Ahluwalia, Chair of Kwantlen's Department of Sociology, called "Teaching and Learning for Truth and Reconciliation".

The symposium titled, "Surviving St. Mary's Residential School: Truth-telling For Healing, Justice and Reconciliation" will centre on the story of Cyril Pierre, a member of the Katzie First Nation. Cyril and other survivors of St. Mary's Indian Residential School were featured in a 2002 book by Terry Glavin called Amongst God's Own: The Enduring Legacy of St. Mary's Mission School. A film titled "Cyril's Story" (2011: Three Crow Productions) will be shown and the film maker, Dallas Yellowfly, will attend. Joe Ginger (Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation), another survivor of St. Mary's, will also attend and discuss his experience and the "common settlement agreement". At the event, the film will be shown, and there will be time for the audience to ask questions and interact with the speakers and guests. Traditional ceremonialists from both Katzie and Sicangu Lakota traditions will provide prayers and healing songs, with support from an Aboriginal Drum group.
Kwantlen students are using the book, film, commentary from the symposium, and other research to develop case studies. Through the lens of the experiences of students of St. Mary's, students will immerse themselves in local knowledge and history in order to draw parallels to the same issues that are currently being dealt with at both national and global levels.

"This symposium will disrupt the silence and denial about the devastating effects of the Residential School System on Aboriginal nations and individuals, and provide an opportunity to hear directly from those who lived through the experience. 50, 000 children who attended these schools are still missing to this day and the Canadian government has convened a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to gather testimony, yet most Canadians claim ignorance about this," says Ahluwalia. "Working for reconciliation and educating ourselves for social justice starts with open minds, active listening and respect for Indigenous traditional knowledge, including traditions of story-telling and oracy."

"Our goal with this symposium is to contribute to building bridges of understanding in our communities," says Ahluwalia. "Being heard is good medicine for those who need to heal. Active listening is good medicine for those who need to learn."

The event will take place between noon and 4:00 pm at Kwantlen's Surrey Campus Conference Centre, Room G1205. The event is free and all people of all ages are welcome. Refreshments will be provided.

Public Education Symposium Details:

  • What: A public education symposium exploring Canada's Residential School System
  • Who: Presented by the Katzie First Nation, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Department of Sociology, KPU Student Life and Community Division and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research: Community Learning and Education (CIR:CLE)
  • When: June 11, 2011 - noon to 4:00 pm
  • Where: Surrey Campus Conference Centre, 12666 72nd Ave Surrey, Room G1205

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs including business, liberal arts and science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 17,000 students annually have a choice from over 135 programs including bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations.


For information on the symposium or for contact information for other participants contact:
Seema Ahluwalia,
Chair, Kwantlen, Department of Sociology
Tel: 604 599 2631

For information about Kwantlen, contact:
Joanne Saunders
Director, Marketing and Communications
Tel: 604.599.2243