Advancing Reconciliation Through Leadership, Culture and Tradition: From Personal to System Change

FEBRUARY 26 | 0800 – 1600


Participants were invited to join us on an interactive learning journey in support of reconciliation that will provide participants with the opportunity to learn history that informs practice today. During this field visit to the University of British Columbia, participants visited the Longhouse, learned about the purpose and history of Reconciliation Pole and the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health, visited the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and participated in a curated tour of the Museum of Anthropology.

By the end of the day, participants:

  1. Deepened their knowledge of colonial histories and current realities of Indigenous people by exploring the Longhouse, the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and the Museum of Anthropology;
  2. Learned about the purpose and history of Reconciliation Pole and the vital symbolism it represents; and
  3. Engaged in personal and professional discussions and build relationships with others committed to understanding and advancing reconciliation.




The First Nations Longhouse is unique as a central hub for programming and services for Indigenous students, the University of British Columbia and the wider community. The Longhouse opened in 1993 and is a prize-winning building that reflects the architectural traditions of the Northwest Coast and operates as a venue for public programming, student and program meetings and many other functions.

At UBC, both Reconciliation Pole and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre ensure that important history is not forgotten. Knowledge of this history is key, as reconciliation is grounded in a deeper understanding of Canada’s colonial history and its impact on Indigenous peoples.


Reconciliation Pole recognizes a complex history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, which includes the history of the Indian Residential Schools. Reconciliation Pole was designed and carved under the direction of Master Carver and Hereditary Chief, 7idansuu (Edenshaw), James Hart, Haida of Haida Gwaii, and assisted by community members. The pole, carved from an 800-year-old red cedar log, was installed on April 1, 2017.

“Reconciliation Pole tells the story of the time before, during, and after the Indian residential school system – a system that began in Canada in the 1800s and ended with the last school closure in 1996. Of its many compelling features, one in particular stands out. Embedded in the pole are thousands of copper nails, which represent the thousands of Indigenous children who died in the residential schools. The nails were hammered one by one by residential school survivors, affected families, school children and others.”


Residential Schools forcibly separated an estimated 150,000 children from their parents, families and culture. Many students died in the schools and many more suffered severe forms of psychological, physical and sexual abuse. The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC provides access for former Indian Residential School students, their families and communities to the records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (housed at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives). The IRSHDC also provides information resources from partner institutions in support of education, public information, research and dialogue about the Indian Residential School System and its legacies.


The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) is a place of world arts and cultures, with a special emphasis on the Indigenous peoples and other cultural communities of British Columbia. The MOA is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of culturally diverse ways of knowing the world through challenging and innovative programs and partnerships with Indigenous, local and global communities. Field trip participants will end the day with a customized, curated tour of the MOA.