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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Ms. Tanya Talaga

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Tanya Talaga

For her award-winning journalism, for her excellence as a writer and lecturer, and for her outstanding commitment to telling the stories of Indigenous people, the university confers proudly upon Ms. Tanya Talaga the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Ms. Talaga possesses the rare gift of storytelling, a tradition she shares with her Anishinaabe elders.

Ms. Talaga grew up in suburban Toronto as the daughter of a Polish-Canadian father and an Ojibwe mother. Her mother was raised by Indian Residential School survivors on the traditional Anishinaabe territory of Fort William First Nation, just outside of Thunder Bay. While she was in her 20s she learned she had a sister that was adopted out to a family in Manitoba and that her mother’s three brothers were in the child-welfare system, part of the ‘Sixties Scoop’, the name given to the taking of Indigenous children from their birth families and communities. This practice still occurs today.

She told some of her family’s stories in her 2017 book, Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City. Her book related the stories of seven Indigenous high school students who had died mysteriously in Thunder Bay. This national bestseller won the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for excellence in the field of literary non-fiction in Canada. Seven Fallen Feathers also won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and the First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult Award; it was also named CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Year.

In 2018, Ms. Talaga became the First Ojibwe woman to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures. This annual lecture series by distinguished writers, thinkers and scholars, explores important ideas and issues of contemporary interest. Her Massey Lectures were later published as her bestselling book, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward.

For the past two decades, Ms. Talaga has worked as a journalist, most recently as a columnist with the Toronto Star, and has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism. From 2017 to 2018, she served as an Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy through The Canadian Journalism Foundation.

Ms. Talaga branched into digital storytelling last year with her new Audible Original podcast, Seven Truths. Her podcasts explore beautifully what Ms. Talaga calls “the Seven Grandfather Teachings that guide Anishinaabe life—humility, love, honesty, bravery, respect, wisdom and truth”. Each program offers contemporary stories that highlight the fight for human rights among Canada's First Nation peoples.

Our university is proud to honour Ms. Talaga, an award-winning journalist, author and storyteller who shares Indigenous stories from across Canada and the world. Her work humanizes the legacy of residential schools and colonization, even as she shares her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future.