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President’s message: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Posted on September 20, 2022

VCC president

A message from VCC president, Ajay Patel

Dear VCC community,

VCC is on our journey of reconciliation—working towards decolonizing and indigenizing how we teach, learn, and foster an inclusive college community. This work is rooted in hearing and understanding historical truths, acknowledging past and persisting racism, including and embracing Indigenous knowledge and ways of being, and a commitment to improving educational and career outcomes for Indigenous people in B.C.

This level of change requires us to think and act differently and is driven by a moral imperative to develop the relationships and knowledge to right these systemic wrongs.

Friday, September 30 is Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a day dedicated for us to deeply acknowledge the horrific impact the Residential School system had, and continues to have, on the Indigenous peoples of what we now call Canada.

The history of intentional harm and destruction towards First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada, and the colonial systems and structures that support such violence and racism, cannot be undone or made “right” by a one-day “holiday” or “day off.”

It is both our individual and collective obligation to reflect on the harsh truths and think deeply about what reconciliation truly means inside each of us and to our community every day—and to make a more active commitment to doing better.

With that in mind, VCC's Indigenous Education and Community Engagement department has organized a week  of activities and experiences around Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at VCC, September 26-28. Indigenous knowledge-holders will share knowledge, practice, and ways of being.


The week will begin with a flag raising ceremony and events throughout the week will include a learning space, blanket exercises, and land acknowledgement workshops for VCC employees and students. Please check the VCC calendar for details.

I encourage our students and employees to take their learnings from the week and deepen our reflection on what we all can do towards Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, September 30, when VCC and colleges across the province will be closed.


Looking ahead, on October 4, as a part of Sisters in Spirit Day, VCC will be hosting a moderated panel of Indigenous women leaders on campus to bring meaningful story and learning about the many missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada.

The event will include dialogue around Canada’s role in this tragic and ongoing crisis, and how non-Indigenous communities can be allies and advocates in finding answers, solutions, and community support.


I would like to reiterate that at VCC we are committed to the tenets of Truth and Reconciliation, embracing and reflecting them in everything we do.

Our recently developed Strategic Innovation Plan has our commitment to Indigenization woven through every element. The college continues to engage in an authentic and intentional review of all of its processes, from policy to instruction, to confront knowledge and practice that bring harm to the integrity of Indigenous identity and community and to ensure that Indigenous knowledge, practice, and ways of being are recognized, included, and elevated.

This is a journey that requires intention, diligence, humility, and the willingness hear truths and learn from our mistakes. We must keep listening, learning, and sharing in the work of reconciliation as led by Indigenous communities, elders, and knowledge-holders.

Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Indigenous Education and Community Engagement department for organizing these events.

Please take the time to explore the many activities and experiences throughout the week that will enhance your understanding and awareness of some of the Indigenous cultures resident in the land we now call Canada.

VCC campuses are on the traditional unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.



Ajay Patel
President and CEO
Vancouver Community College

About Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day began out of the lived experience of Phyllis Webstad, who as a child living in BC, was taken from her family and sent to a Residential School. One of her strongest memories was of having all her possessions taken from her, including her beloved orange shirt.

Phyllis’ story has become a symbol of Truth and Reconciliation and September 30 is an opportunity to stop and reflect on the history of Residential Schools in Canada.

About Sisters in Spirit

Sisters in Spirit Day, on October 4, is a day where we honour the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (#MMIWG).

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has worked for more than four decades to document the systemic violence impacting Indigenous women, girls, their families, and communities. There over 1,800 cases of missing and/or murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Learn more

  • Review the B.C. government’s draft action plan to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
  • Study the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action and chose one (or more!) that you can personally work toward.
  • Learn about the services and supports available to Indigenous students at VCC.
  • Understand the importance of VCC’s Gladue Reporting program in Canada’s justice system.
  • Read about VCC student Eddy’s journey into nursing and his passion for confronting colonialism in health care.
  • Take a self-guided walking tour of Indigenous art at VCC campuses.