Manitoba

Brandon University posters aim to promote equality, reconciliation by highlighting TRC's calls to action

Brandon University student Debbie Huntinghawk hopes new posters unveiled last week at the university, which highlight some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action, help educate not only faculty and staff, but also the public.

Posters to be installed around Brandon University campus focus on Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls

Debbie Huntinghawk is a fifth-year student at Brandon University, while Chris Lagimodiere is the director of the school's Indigenous Peoples' Centre. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Debbie Huntinghawk says she knows first-hand the struggles Indigenous people go though to get a good education.

"My grandparents went to residential schools," said Huntinghawk, a fifth-year student in the Native studies department's clinical specialization program at Brandon University. "Both my parents didn't go to school. They didn't want to be a part of what happened.

"I went though a hard time."

Huntinghawk hopes new posters unveiled last week at the southwestern Manitoba university, which highlight some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action, help educate not only faculty and staff, but also the public.

The project, funded by the university, was unveiled on Friday.

"When I look at this, I think about Aboriginal people who have been oppressed for a long time from education," Huntinghawk told CBC News on Wednesday.

She said some students have to go a long way from their homes for post-secondary education. That distance causes some to leave before they complete their studies, she said, while others will have problems finding child care, or will face other barriers trying to get an education.

Twenty-seven posters like this will be installed in high-traffic areas of Brandon University. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Chris Lagimodiere, director of Brandon University's Indigenous Peoples' Centre, said he hopes the posters, which are being installed in high-traffic areas around the school's campus, serve as a daily reminder that education and equality are core priorities.

"Our whole campus, our whole community needs to come together for this," he said.

"It's not just something that's going to effect the current students that we have. Its going to affect the future generations, the employees that are working at the institution. It's also going to affect the community," he said.

"We want to make sure our Indigenous youth in the community are growing up and feeling like post-secondary is a place they can belong and a place they can be successful."

The posters include a quote from Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in the bottom-right corner.

"It is precisely because education was the primary tool of oppression of Aboriginal people, and miseducation of all Canadians, that we have concluded that education holds the key to reconciliation," it reads.

Lagimodiere said Brandon University is trying to make sure Indigenous students are supported the best they can.

"I do think the desire is there to know how do we accomplish this. That's the challenge for all of this right now," he said.

"We need to change things within our own system. It's not the students that need to change. It's the institutions that need to change."

Lagimodiere said 27 posters will be put up to start, but other units within the school have also expressed interest in having one in their spaces.

Huntinghawk wants people to learn from the past.

"We have so many struggles and so many barriers, and we just want equality and to come here and leave here with an education," said Huntinghawk.

With files from Radio Noon.

27 posters are being put up in high-traffic areas of the school's campus, highlighting some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action. 1:34