Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, met with Indigenous Elders, students, staff, and faculty from across campus June 20, hosted by Beverly Jacobs, senior advisor to the president on Indigenous relations and outreach.
Jean took part in a sharing circle where stories of Indigenous thought and knowledge were shared to discuss a potential documentary film that engages Indigenous relationships to land and water in the Windsor-Essex area.
“I was very touched and listened carefully to what you’ve shared with us,” she said to the assembled group. “You have filled this circle with wisdom.”
Mary Lou and Dan Smoke, respected Elders, teachers, activists, writers, and broadcasters, opened the event with remarks, a smudge ceremony, and prayers, followed by an introduction to the University by president Robert Gordon.
“We want to listen, learn and do what’s right,” Dr. Gordon said. “We want to empower our community to have a voice and so we thank former Governor General Jean for visiting our campus and offering the privilege to have these conversations.”
Jean acknowledged that difficult questions must be raised to facilitate real change and reconciliation.
“If we don’t recognize the wrongs of the past, the future will take its revenge,” she said. “We need to hear the truths about the wrongs of the past. It’s the only way we can move forward together.”
She said she was proud to launch the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and the issues it addressed go beyond Indigenous communities: “It has to matter to all.”