UCC Truth and Reconciliation Summit connects students, alumni and faculty

Featured speakers Barry Hill '62 and Alain Bartleman '07 shared their knowledge with engaged attendees at the May 1 virtual event.
The speakers are both valued members of UCC's Truth and Reconciliation Council. Hill is a retired mechanical engineer from Ohsweken, Ont. Bartleman is a lawyer with Nahwegahbow, Corbiere, a Rama, Ont. firm specializing in Aboriginal law. 

The summit was organized by the College's Amnesty International club and Truth and Reconciliation club under the student leadership of Robbie Evans and Albert Lou, and the sponsorship of teachers Heather Crawford and David Holt. Leading up to the event, members of the clubs authored articles exploring current issues facing Canada’s Indigenous citizens. During the summit, they took on hosting duties and introduced the speakers, moderated prepared and real-time questions, and oversaw breakout rooms.

Hill talked to attendees about the historical relationship Indigenous peoples have with the Crown, dating back to the 1700s when four Haudenosaunee chiefs visited Queen Anne in England. He also spoke about the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which completed its report in 2015. To date, only about eight of its 94 calls to action have been addressed. 

Said Bartleman, “Reconciliation requires imagination, both historical and future-facing.” He related that there are claims that have been reconciled with the Crown through negotiated treaties, explaining that others, especially in British Columbia, have yet to be reconciled. 

There were myriad questions for Hill and Bartleman, and extended conversations were conducted in the breakout sessions.

Afterward, Evans said, "Truth and Reconciliation is one of the first human rights issues our club focused on from its start. It’s close to our hearts."

Lou was delighted by the turnout. "Everyone was very engaged and there was a lot of thoughtful discussion."

Evans and Lou were grateful to their fellow club members, as well as faculty and staff who assisted with the event, including archivist Jill Spellman. The two students are now busy working with those in younger grades: Year 8s who are potential future club members, and Year 5s who have embarked on a related art project.
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