To mark Canada’s 150 years since confederation, the University of Saskatchewan has unveiled its Canada 150 projects, a series of initiatives to celebrate the event with faculty, students, staff and alumni. The various projects all focus on providing resources to youth, enabling reconciliation and acknowledging outstanding work in the community.
The U of S is offering a wide range of events and programs, including the Youth Laureates Tour, an endowed Chair in Indigenous Spiritually and Reconciliation and the U of S “Canada 150” Citizens award, among many others, to celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
Kehan Fu, outgoing president of the U of S Students’ Union and fourth-year political studies student, discusses why it is important for students to be actively involved in the conversation about Canada’s future.
“I think, one of the important things to note [is that] for students, their version of what Canada 150 could mean is, I think, in many ways … different from what it may mean to baby boomers. I think that part of Canada 150, as we have these events that are being planned, [is that] it’s also important for students, while they are attending these events, to ensure that their stories are being told,” Fu said.
Canada 150 is an initiative promoted by the federal government and the U of S that will allow Canadians from coast-to-coast-tocoast to celebrate shared values, achievements and their place in the world. The Indspire Youth Laureates Cross Canada Tour will take place on May 30, from 1 to 3 p.m. in Convocation Hall, featuring four winners of the Indspire Award. These awards are granted to Indigenous professionals and youth who have demonstrated outstanding career achievement, promoted self-esteem and pride for Indigenous communities and been outstanding role models for Indigenous youth.
In a panel discussion, the four laureates will engage in open dialogue with the Indigenous and non- Indigenous communities about the importance of education, and they will discuss how youth can overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. Another addition to the project is the creation of an endowed Chair of Indigenous Spirituality and Reconciliation by St. Thomas More College at the U of S. The chair was formally inaugurated on May 17, 2016, and it is the first position of its kind in a Catholic institution.
Terrence Downey, president of STM and co-chair of STM’s Advisory Circle, recognizes the important role that reconciliation plays in Canada 150 and is pleased that it is one of the major themes. “This is the first of its kind across Canada; no one studies Indigenous spiritualities,” Downey said.
The purpose of the chair is to analyze the complexities of the interactions between Indigenous and Christian individuals to advance reconciliation and facilitate dialogue with the academic community, as well as Canada as a whole. The initial contribution for the chair was donated by the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, who originally established STM as a Catholic college. Downey hopes the endowed chair grows to become a full-time position.
The U of S is also acknowledging those who have made considerable contributions to Canada and the U of S community through the “Canada 150” Citizens award. The themes of focus include promoting diversity and building relationships, supporting efforts towards reconciliation and raising environmental stewardship.
The U of S is accepting nominations for the Citizens award until May 1, and eligible candidates from the U of S community can include staff, faculty, students and alumni. Additional information about these projects can be found on the U of S Canada 150 Project website. Fu explains that there are diverse groups of people all over Canada who are able to share their perspectives and goals for what they hope Canada will become.
“A huge part of Canada 150 is, I think, a stance made by both the government, which is the most obvious stance because of government funding, and … by different areas, different segments of our population, and what they want to see of Canada in the future.”
Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor