I want to first acknowledge that NSCAD is located in the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.
Today, we at NSCAD join with others from coast to coast to coast, to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. We are proud and honoured to bear witness to those who have been making and creating in this land since time immemorial. The art, craft, and design that has been, and is still being, produced by artists and knowledge keepers inspires, challenges, and demonstrates the resilience of Indigenous peoples and resurgences of Indigenous knowledge. Indigenous communities are at the forefront of bringing our planet back to its proper alignment, where nature and the land are revered, respected, and sustained.
I also know that words, like the territorial acknowledgement, and a day of celebration are not enough. It is our responsibility to use our privilege to work together with Indigenous to include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students, alumni, staff, faculty, and friends throughout our entire NSCAD community. We are committed to finding a way forward together. We must do our part to uphold responsibilities such as those outlined in the Treaties of Peace and Friendship and to ensure pathways/space so that the stories are told, and that the rich heritages/dynamisms are not obscured by a Euro-centric, colonial lens.
I pledge to you, that we are here to listen, and to learn. We will work to embrace change for the better. We will use our voices to speak out about past wrongs: to acknowledge how we benefit from settler colonialism, the roles our ancestors played in the dispossession of Indigenous land, and our shared benevolence and complacency of colonial violence, atrocities and indignities that continue to this day. So it must also be our commitment to speak out against injustice and violence against Indigenous people that is still happening. As long as racism continues, our work is not done. Know that we understand that it is our work to unsettle/decolonize the institution by disrupting settler colonial values and systemic racism. We willingly, and wholeheartedly take on these responsibilities and accountability.
To current Indigenous students at NSCAD and our incredible Indigenous alumni, we will do better.
Thank you. We honour you on this day, and every day. Wela’lin.
Dr. Aoife Mac Namara