Post-secondary institution Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig (SKG) is giving its students what the past was so determined to take away; a connection to their language, culture and a path forward.
Appropriately, its Grand Opening is Sept. 30th — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) and the event will reflect both the somberness and hope of the date.
"It's a historic, momentous occasion to be able to bring both the day of celebration of the TRC and our Grand Opening," Dianne Roach, Director of Operations, said.
The opening includes testimonials from residential school survivors and knowledge keepers that will educate attendees on the history of Shingwauk Indian Residential School and the true spirit and intent of our treaties.
The Huron Catholic District School Board is providing an interactive history lesson with a blanket exercise that goes through the impact of residential schools, the sixties scoop and policies that have aimed to assimilate Indigenous culture.
Roach added that Jingle dress dancers would help with the heaviness she anticipates people will feel after hearing the raw truth of history. The afternoon will be lighter, with first-generation survivors sharing their success stories of reconciliation.
"It's going to be an inspirational day, full of emotions, but it's intended just to open the eyes of the common person who doesn't have any idea of what residential schools have done and demonstrate the strength and determination our people continue to demonstrate," she said.
Sept. 8 was also a historic day for SKG, marking the first time students could be on campus, having to do the past two years virtually due to the pandemic.
Programs offered at SKG include a degree in Anishinaabemowin — Ojibway language that was spoken in this territory historically — and a degree in Anishinaabe Studies.
"Historically, residential schools were aimed at removing our language and culture," Roach explained. "And those two programs speak to our people's resiliency and passion."
They also fulfill Chief Shingwaukonse'ibun's vision of combining elements of Western knowledge and civilization while keeping the Indigenous language and culture at the centre.
The Grand Opening is a testament to SKG's success in promoting Chief Shingwaukonse’ibu’s vision while also acknowledging the painful history of residential schools and the treatment of Indigenous people.
Roach said that while many post-secondary institutions go through decolonization and Indigenization, SKG is Indigenous from the ground up, and a warm spirit is palpable when walking into the building and interacting with the staff.
In partnership with Indigenous Tourism Ontario’s Weekend for Truth and Reconciliation, the evening will end with a spectacular Truth and Reconciliation Drone Show at Silver Creek Golf Course, with over 200 drones over the night sky.
For more information on the events, click this link.