This year marks a tragic start to National Indigenous History Month. We stand with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, Indigenous peoples nationwide and all Canadians in mourning the deaths of the 215 children – and all the children – who did not survive Residential School.
As part of its commitment to strengthening communities and bridging gaps, First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) is working alongside Reconciliation Education and BMO Financial Group to launch Nisitohtamowin ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑕᒧᐃᐧᐣ, a new introductory eLearning course to promote healing, equity and respect of Indigenous cultures and values in Canadian Society.
Available to Canadians throughout the month of June, Nisitohtamowin, which means “understanding” in Cree, is intended to help foster greater understanding of Indigenous perspectives through education, which can lead to stronger relationships and enhanced opportunities for the economy, communities, the environment and beyond. The course was developed in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action and recommendations on education, with a section that provides an introduction to the legacy and impact of Indian Residential Schools, including a personal account shared by Residential School Survivor and Dene Elder Margaret Reynolds.
“The tragic news regarding the remains of 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School uncovers the pain and hurt felt across Indigenous communities,” said Elder and Residential School Survivor, Margaret Reynolds, who sits on the Elders (kehte-ayak) Council and Board of Governors for First Nations University of Canada. “We ask everyone to take a moment of silence to honour these children, their families and communities. We ask the Creator to give strength and blessings to all those hurting and impacted by this news.”
“The painful news that has emerged regarding the Kamloops Indian Residential School underscores the critical importance of truth and reconciliation in Canada. The legacy and impact of Indian Residential Schools has not been taught widely and so education is key to understanding, ” said Dr. Bob Kayseas, Interim President, Vice President Academic, First Nations University of Canada. “The path to greater well-being and prosperity for Indigenous peoples is through education, and the path to respectful relationships where we can all coexist and lift each other up is through reconciliation education. Nisitohtamowin is just the first step on the journey — we encourage all participants to seek further learning opportunities either with Indigenous Peoples in your own region or at First Nations University of Canada.”
Financial Assistance and Supports to Indigenous Students
In addition to the eLearning initiative, BMO is providing a
$250,000 gift that will enable FNUniv to provide financial assistance and supports to Indigenous students through their academic year, including entrance level scholarships, Indigenous business student scholarships, and emergency bursaries.
Over the last three decades, BMO has had a leading presence in supporting long-term sustainable economic growth for Indigenous communities and is committed to progress for Indigenous peoples across three pillars that reflect the Truth & Reconciliation Commission call to action for corporate Canada: education, employment, and economic empowerment. Along with the BMO Sharing Circle (BMO’s Enterprise Resource Group for Indigenous colleagues) and BMO’s Indigenous Advisory Council – comprised of First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders from across the country – the eLearning initiative promotes inclusion, education and progress against the calls to action.
“The recent tragic news from Kamloops, B.C. has only strengthened BMO’s commitment to playing a role in reconciliation through education. We’re grateful to have partnered with First Nations University of Canada and Reconciliation Education through 2020 to develop Nisitohtamowin, which, among other things, honours the stories of Residential School survivors,” said Michael Bonner, Head, Canadian Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. “Nearly 80 per cent of our employees have completed this learning to date and we are honoured to be able to share it now with the rest of Canada during National Indigenous History Month. As part of our commitment to supporting Indigenous communities through education, employment and economic empowerment, we’re also pleased to be able to help First Nations University provide scholarships to its students.”
Click here to register for the free Nisitohtamowin eLearning course or visit: www.fnuniv.ca/reconciliation. For more information about BMO’s commitment to supporting Indigenous communities, click here or visit: www.bmo.com/indigenous-commitments.