VIU Campus

National Indigenous History Month

Message from the President

In June we celebrate National Indigenous History Month and, on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day. This month, we celebrate the cultures, languages, knowledges, histories and traditions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. At Vancouver Island University, we acknowledge the Snuneymuxw, Quw’utsun, Tla’amin, Snaw-naw-as and Qualicum First Nations and how our work and our lives are enriched by the knowledges and cultures of the Indigenous peoples of these lands on which we teach, learn, research, live and share knowledge.

With this held in my heart, I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the Snuneymuxw First Nation on two recent events that signify a step toward reconciliation. In January, the Province of BC transferred 212 hectares of land on Te’tuxwtun, known as Mount Benson East, to the Nation. This is the first step in the implementation of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and British Columbia Land Transfer Agreement from 2020, with the remaining 2,882 hectares planned for transfer to Snuneymuxw in the near future. The second event was the repatriation of nearly 100 sacred objects from the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. This is just the beginning, and the Nation plans to reach out to other museums, galleries and private collectors to have other items returned. VIU supports and applauds these efforts and I hope this inspires more repatriation efforts across Canada.

As I celebrate with Snuneymuxw these recent acts of restitution, I also acknowledge the ongoing impacts of colonialism in Canada, including at colonial institutions like Vancouver Island University. Our ongoing learning, not just during this month but throughout the year, ensures that we are prepared for our role in addressing the injustices in our systems. This May and June, the Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement hosted a learning series titled Disrupting the “Busy”ness: Everyday practices for building allyship and relationship. We were encouraged to stop and lean into these conversations, allowing ourselves to challenge our own thinking, ask ourselves and each other tough questions and, especially, get excited about learning together. This is the energy we need to embrace and nurture as we strive to be good citizens of this place.

We will have many more opportunities together, both in-person and online, to further our learnings and inform our actions. The renovation of Shq’apthut at the Nanaimo campus will be complete in time for a grand re-opening this fall. This beloved building will provide a home for many of these conversations. In the meantime, I encourage our community to participate in the National Indigenous History Month events planned both on the land and online this month. On June 21, there will be a film screening and Soup and Bannock event in the Malaspina Theatre starting at 11:30 am. We will be sharing more information about this event and others in the VIU Digest as well as some reading and learning recommendations. Please join me in celebrating this day.


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