Five students attended St. Thomas University’s senate meeting on Feb. 14 to protest the censoring of discussions on reconciliation at the last senate meeting on Jan. 17.
STU students Julian Humphries and Naomi Gullison organized the protest.
Gullison was inspired to attend the meeting after The Aquinian was blocked from covering the discussions at the last meeting.
“We wanted to go and express to the senate our displeasure that they were censoring discussions about reconciliation, as that’s such a controversial [subject] in Indigenous communities,” Gullison said.
“And I really don’t understand why they would employ the censorship for that in particular.”
After the regular meeting was completed, the meeting turned to discussing reconciliation. Gullison, along with four other students, held signs reading,“Respect our press,” “Education is not reconciliation,” “What do you want us to hear?” and “What are you hiding?”
Students AJ Alward, Jacob Patterson, Lexie Mombourquette and Brett Stanford participated.
Gullison said the group didn’t want to disrupt the meeting, but they wanted to let senate members know they didn’t agree with the censorship.
“I think what we wanted to get out of this is to make sure that we’re making our points clear about censorship, but also to get our own inputs in there about indigenization and reconciliation,” she said.
Gullison also addressed the concern of Mi’kmaq/Maliseet Bachelor of Social Work student Keyaira Gruben of Kingsclear First Nation not being able to have her daughter Cedar in class with her.
The university faced backlash in November when Gruben was told she’d be removed from the program if she continued to bring her child to class.
One of the signs read “Let Cedar in class.”
“All this talk about reconciliation and making spaces accessible and for that to be going on, it’s just ridiculous,” Gullison said.
Another sign read “Take Brian Mulroney’s name off our campus; he’s a war criminal and should not be honored [sic].”
Brian Mulroney was the prime minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993, while residential schools were still operating. Gullison and the group want his name to be removed from Brian Mulroney Hall on campus.
“All this talk of indigenization, but we have a building named after a genocidal maniac,” said Gullison.
Gullison said she hasn’t planned any other forms of protest but she hopes the protest at senate made a difference.
“I hope that [The Aquinian] is more respected at future meetings and that maybe we [got] some ideas in there that weren’t really being discussed.”
St. Thomas University didn’t respond in time for publication.