For Indigenous students and their families, confirmations of hundreds of unmarked graves reopen unhealed wounds. Canada’s residential school system murdered thousands of Indigenous children through violence, illness, and neglect. This genocidal system was designed to erase cultures, languages, memories, and families. The intergenerational trauma caused by these crimes continues to impact many Indigenous students here at the University of Alberta.

As more tragedies come to light, many of us want to help in some meaningful way, without drowning out the powerful and often-ignored Indigenous voices at work, or imposing on our Indigenous friends, colleagues and family to educate us. It’s important to reflect, commit, and make change within our sphere of influence. Two places to start are the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, and the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

The Calls to Action and Calls for Justice have already given the University of Alberta a road map to easing some of the harms bound up in Indigenous student experiences. The UASU Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Committee's recommendations have echoed several of these calls. Together, we need to take these priorities more seriously without Indigenous students needing to urge us along.

Our law, nursing, and medical programs each need to implement a mandatory course on intercultural competency and the history and current realities of Indigenous rights, as detailed in Calls to Action #24 and #28. The University needs more Indigenous-centred and culturally-informed services, from student rights to academic advising to spiritual support. Remote learning for rural students must become more functional and accessible, and students who parent should not have so much trouble finding relevant support. The University must carefully reexamine the impacts of security practices around our campuses. These are only some of the barriers that significantly affect many Indigenous students at the University of Alberta, and their families.

Residential schools are a national shame, and we hope to be better stewards of the responsibility to inform and support each other. To the 1300 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students at the University of Alberta: as settlers, the UASU Executives hope to stand with you in ways that are meaningful to you.


You can learn more about residential schools here:

➡️ They Came for the Children

➡️ Yellowhead Institute Community Resources


You can access mental health supports here:

➡️ Aboriginal Counselling Services of Alberta

➡️ First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line | Call: 1.855.242.3310

➡️ Native Counselling Services of Alberta

➡️ Empower Me | Toll-free 24/7: 1-833-628-5589

➡️ UASU Peer Support Centre