Canada prides itself on being a just and accepting society, but off on the periphery of our society is a dark shadow. News reports over the past few weeks have focused on the discovery of child remains at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, and in the midst of that news, the Federal government responded to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls with their “Federal Pathway” report. Within the report, the government laid out a holistic approach to end violence directed towards Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA. The plan calls for more spending to promote Indigenous language and culture plus improvements to infrastructure, health, and policing in Indigenous communities.
As the UBC Okanagan Engineering Indigenous Caucus, we think it is important to build awareness about these tough subjects, and maintain a dialogue to uncover what we can do as engineers, and aspiring engineers, to seek out reconciliation while ending a negative cycle.
Whether it is residential schools or missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, this is all transpiring in recent history. “Reclaiming Power and Place” was the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Published in 2019, the report includes the voices of over 2,380 family members, survivors of violence, experts, and Knowledge Keepers. The Inquiry’s Commissioner Michèle Audette puts the onus on all Canadians to address the over-arching issue of keep Indigenous women and girls safe. “This is not just a job for governments and politicians. It is incumbent on all Canadians to hold our leaders to account (and dismantle the structures of colonialism within Canada society).” The report outlines specific issues such as language barriers, health and social services provided by religious congregations and interaction with Indigenous and provincial police forces. This content is very powerful, and some people may require support after watching them. If so, here are some support resources through UBC:
- UBC Wellness: https://students.ok.ubc.ca/health-wellness/
- UBC Employee and Family Assistance Program at 1-800-387-4765
Every year in June, you may notice red dresses on hangers around Kelowna and the Okanagan campus. The annual Red Dress campaign is intended to raise awareness on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. We direct you to the following resources to learn more about this campaign:
Here are some other resources available:
One of the biggest steps we can take is talking about these tough subjects. By taking part in this dialogue we can find solutions. That’s what we, as engineers, do. We uncover solutions to the seemingly impossible.
During this month, we will continue to share topics and resources as we open a dialogue about reconciliation, and the role we all play in this process. We welcome your participation and input.
Drs. Benoit and Foulds
Drs. Collier and Tobber (incoming engineering faculty for July 2021)
School of Engineering Indigenous Caucus