Message from Scott Cowie, Senior Division head
Thursday, Feb. 2: Parent-teacher interviews, 2 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. (classes end at 1:10 p.m.)
Friday, Feb. 3: Parent-teacher interviews, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (no classes)
There are numerous aspects of the College that serve as sources of pride for our community members. Facilities, quality of programming and efforts in the area of providing meaningful financial assistance are a few that immediately come to mind. However, the one feature of our storied institution that continues to resonate with everyone is our history. One hundred and eighty-eight years of existence in a country celebrating its 150th birthday means something.
During Monday’s assembly, those present witnessed a powerful moment in UCC’s history, as principal McKinney announced that we would incorporate an “acknowledgment of Aboriginal land” into the order of service for special assemblies moving forward. Many of you may be aware that school boards across the province, including the Toronto District School Board, adopted this important practice at the start of this school year. Here’s a link to a CBC news article about this new tradition.
To celebrate this significant important step forward for the College, during assembly on Monday the boys heard from two members of the aboriginal community: one of their peers and a Cayugan elder from the Turtle clan.
The IB1 boy who spoke delivered a powerful message in the form of a “This I Believe” speech that outlined his view of how his ancestors and other Aboriginal peoples have been mistreated and misunderstood throughout history. He pointed to prejudicial sentiments that still exist today by referencing nicknames and logos of sports teams that are commonplace in North America, but remain hurtful to those with First Nations heritage. The applause at the conclusion of his speech lasted much longer than usual — proof that what he said had impact on the boys.
Aboriginal elder Cat Criger, who works with a number of organizations, including the University of Toronto, then spoke with the boys in conversational style, sharing his perspective on a number of issues, including how he managed to reconcile traditional First Nations philosophies and ways of living with the modernity of current society. In good humour, he told the boys that he didn’t have a horse parked outside of Laidlaw Hall, but that he had a turbo car packed with a ton of horsepower. In essence, Criger conveyed that many of the conveniences available today permit him to easily focus on more meaningful things. Thus, as he described, simply putting on a coat, rather than having to wrap himself in animal skins, allows him more time to connect with people and our environment.
Criger’s emphasis on pursuing a higher purpose in life shone through in his words. There was a reflective, wise and grateful tone in all that he said, as he challenged the boys to share their gifts of knowledge and wisdom with each other. And most importantly, to focus on their heart, placing it at the centre of all their social interactions: to look at others with empathy, to listen with patience and to speak with compassion.
As we look toward the future, both as an institution and as individuals, we need to be mindful that we can learn much from our own past and the history of others.
Monday’s assembly was very special. I encourage you to ask your son about it.
Thanks for reading,