York community will come together for annual Inclusion Day Conference

The Centre for Human Rights will bring the York community together on Friday, Jan. 27 when it hosts its eighth annual Inclusion Day Conference at York University’s Keele campus.

This year’s theme is “Canada and Human Rights @150 years” and the day-long symposium will take place on York University’s Keele campus, is free of charge, and open to the community. There will be two sessions with keynote speakers and a panel discussion.

inclusion day bannerAcademia’s Relationship to Truth and Reconciliation: York University to explore the relationship between post-secondary institutions and Truth and Reconciliation at Inclusion Day – 9:30am to noon

Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux

The morning session will reflect on the one-year anniversary since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report on the institutionalization of Indigenous/Aboriginal children in residential schools. For 100 of the 150 years of Canadian Confederacy, residential schools were in existence – a forced educational experience that tore apart many First Nations families and communities and resulted in well documented individual and systemic abuses.

The Commission has said, “the cumulative impact of residential schools is a legacy of unresolved trauma passed from generation to generation and has had a profound effect on the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians.”

Michael F. Charles, the new executive director of the Centre for Human Rights, states “it is critical to engage Indigenous students, staff, and faculty both inside and outside York.  These perspectives imbue our teaching, learning and research with new possibilities. The objective of reconciliation is just as important. We must collaboratively look for ways to expand Indigenous participation in all facets of university operations and governance.”

The keynote speaker of this session is Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux from Lakehead University, and the first Chair of Truth and Reconciliation at a Canadian university. She is the former vice-provost, Aboriginal Initiatives at Lakehead.

Panelists include prestigious scholar Deborah McGregor of Osgoode Hall Law School, Randy Pitawanakwat of York’s Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, and Karissa John, the president of the Aboriginal Students Association at York University.

The Honourable Arif Virani, P.C., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park to address Inclusion Day – 1 to 3pm

Arif Virani
Arif Virani

For the afternoon, Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Lorne Sossin will introduce keynote speaker Virani who will speak to the triumphs and challenges of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement project.  Sossin facilitated a university-wide effort to sponsor Syrian refugee families alongside other universities located in Toronto as part of the Lifeline to Syria Challenge.

This presentation will provide an opportunity to assess the Canadian government’s initiative to have resettled 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada between Nov. 4, 2015 and Feb. 29, 2016.

“Our willingness as a community to help those fleeing political or economic distress must include an openness to be changed and to learn from those interactions with the knowledge that ultimately all benefit,” said Charles.

York University President Mamdouh Shoukri will welcome all participants, and exciting announcements will also be part of the day. For more information and to register, visit http://rights.info.yorku.ca/inclusion-day-2017/.