A message from the President and Vice-Chancellor:
On behalf of the University of Ottawa, and in solidarity with our Indigenous students, faculty, staff and alumni, I wish to acknowledge that today, October 4, is the annual National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People (MMIWG2S).
That such a Day of Action is needed tells us that something is very wrong with our society.
We should not have to mourn these hundreds of victims, nor demand that action be taken to investigate and prevent such awful crimes.
We should not have to make an effort to remember that each of those who were murdered or who are missing had names, families, communities, and people who loved them.
Instead we should be celebrating the wisdom, intelligence, beauty and courage of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people and helping them to achieve their dreams.
And yet here we are, not only remembering the horrors of the past, but reliving them in the present, as we witnessed just last week the awful circumstances surrounding the death of Joyce Echaquan.
There are still some leaders in our society who refuse to acknowledge that systemic racism exists. They are mistaken. Racism towards Indigenous people is an appalling part of our history, and it remains an all too real part of our world today.
This is a difficult truth to face, but at the University of Ottawa it is our duty to face difficult truths, to seek them out, to conduct research into challenging and complex social issues, and to have honest yet sometimes painful conversations about the world we live in.
We must face the reality of systemic racism head on if we are to understand and overcome it, on campus and across our country.
That is the only way we will move beyond the urgent need for this National Day of Action, and to one day come to celebrate instead a truly inclusive society in which Indigenous citizens feel safe and honored.
Let us continue to work together towards that end.
President and Vice-Chancellor