The little cedar tree that was planted last year in the BMH courtyard as a symbol of reconciliation has grown. It was unveiled at the Faculty of Health’s first Commitment Ceremony last June 20, a day before National Indigenous Peoples Day. It represents the commitment the Faculty has made toward Indigenization, with Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Myeengun Henry leading and facilitating the way.

One year later, it is time for a Polishing the Eagle Feather ceremony, a recommitment to the promises that were made a year ago between Faculty of Health Dean Lili Liu and Elder Henry.

“On behalf of the Faculty, your presence has demonstrated to us so much more than we realized it could,” Dr. Liu said to Elder Henry during the ceremony. “It has been such an affirming experience to have you on board. Although June is Indigenous History Month in Canada, and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, we aim to make every day Indigenous Day for us.


Dean Liu and Elder Henry watering cedar plant

“I want to thank you for paving the way to help us seek the truth in everything we do and seek ways for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples of Canada."

Elder Henry said, “During these days of reconciliation, we’re finding that many institutions, organizations and companies are reaching out to First Nation communities, hoping to achieve a friendship that was lacking for many years. As we’ve been venturing through this journey at the University of Waterloo, it’s been a tremendous experience. We’ve come to a place where hearts are open, thoughts and ideas of how we can make things even better in the future has really come at a perfect time.”

He added, “I’ve never had so much support and I’ve felt the love from students, faculty and staff. It has made me feel good about why I am here and what is happening in the Faculty and at the University.”

Also participating in the ceremony were Glen Henhawk (BSc ’84, Kinesiology), who carried in the Eagle Staff, and Jaydum Hunt, Director of Indigenous Initiatives from Wilfrid Laurier, and her drum group, as well as several students. Besides the speeches, Dean Liu and Elder Henry watered the cedar tree, promising continued partnership and friendship.