Graydon Nicholas Reflects on Past to Guide Route to Reconciliation
On September 30, 2021, the first National Day for Reconciliation and Truth takes place in Canada, representing the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and ensuring the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools is never forgotten. While Canadians are encouraged to engage in quiet reflection or participation in a community event, St. Jerome’s University (SJU) will be bringing this message closer to home. On October 2nd, The Honourable Graydon Nicholas, a member of the Order of Canada, and current Endowed Chair of Native Studies at St. Thomas University, is the guest speaker at the university’s annual Feast of St. Jerome student bursary fundraiser, offering his own reflections on the past and the route to reconciliation for Catholics.
“I believe that Our Lord, Jesus, is providing Indigenous and non-Indigenous Catholics to a dialogue as a grace of understanding and healing the wounds of the past. This journey can only begin and continue as brothers and sisters if respect, love and enculturation is present,” stated Nicholas, adding, “what began in 1492, as evangelization, was wrong with misunderstanding, intolerance and too much pain. This was not evangelization at its proudest beginning. Jesus is a man of peace, love and acceptance. We can heal through prayer.”
Nicholas has worked for justice for First Nations and other peoples throughout his career. Born on the Tobique Reserve, NB and raised in a Catholic family, he became the first aboriginal person in Atlantic Canada to earn his law degree from the University of New Brunswick (UNB). He went on to work with the Union of New Brunswick’s Indians as legal counsel, and acted as the Chairman of its Board and President from 1974-1988. He was the first aboriginal person appointed in New Brunswick to both the positions of Provincial Court Judge, followed by the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick (2009-2014). In 2016, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his contributions to the people of New Brunswick as a lawyer, judge, lieutenant governor, and Indigenous leader.
Post-secondary education has also been a significant part of Nicholas’s life. He earned his BSc from St. Francis Xavier University; law degree from UNB; a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University; and four honorary degrees from St. Francis Xavier, Wilfrid Laurier, Mount Allison, and UNB. He is the current Endowed Chair of Native Studies at St. Thomas University, NB.
“Nicholas’s life has been about commitment to his Indigenous culture, education, and his faith,” noted Meehan. “On October 2nd we look forward to him speaking about how history offers different perspectives on the relationships between the church and Indigenous people, what we can learn from this, and how we can move forward to reconciliation.”
To find out more and/or purchase a ticket for the 20th Anniversary Feast of St. Jerome event, please register your participation, no later than Friday, September 24th.
The Feast of St. Jerome is generously sponsored by the Diocese of Hamilton, The Catholic Community Foundation of Waterloo Region, the Congregation of the Resurrection, Dana Hospitality, Miller Thomson, TD Commercial, TD Wealth, and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.