Vancouver Island University president Deborah Saucier watches as members of the Snuneymuxw First Nation perform a dance during her installation ceremony at the Snuneymuxw’s Longhouse on Friday. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

Vancouver Island University president Deborah Saucier watches as members of the Snuneymuxw First Nation perform a dance during her installation ceremony at the Snuneymuxw’s Longhouse on Friday. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

New VIU president sworn in at ceremony at Snuneymuxw Longhouse

Deborah Saucier says VIU is committed to inclusion and reconciliation with indigenous peoples

When the new president of Nanaimo’s only university was sworn in on Friday, history was made.

Deborah Saucier, Vancouver Island University’s new president, took an oath and was officially sworn in during an installation ceremony at the Snuneymuxw Longhouse on Friday.

It’s the first time that a VIU president has had an installation ceremony at the longhouse, according to university officials.

Saucier, who is Métis, told the audience she was “humbled” and honoured to have her installation ceremony at the longhouse. As VIU president, Saucier said the institution will continue to develop innovative programs that will allow students to flourish on and off-campus.

“We will do more to allow our students to thrive and have a good life,” she said.

RELATED: Vancouver Island University names next president

In her speech, Saucier also said there is a commonly held belief that the best universities are the ones that are exclusive. She said excellent universities shouldn’t be defined by how many people they exclude.

“What if we turned [that notion] on its head and thought instead that excellent universities were those that invited everyone in? That excellence was defined by how well members of our community succeeded not by how many were weeded out,” she said. “It’s kind of a radical idea isn’t it? To turn a university on its head and to define excellence as inclusion and success and VIU is that kind of university.

“We are committed to inclusion and promoting the success of our people, our communities and the nations that we serve, which is why I think VIU is a different kind of university.”

Saucier also touched on the importance of ensuring indigenous people have better access to education at VIU.

“Education is the key to a good life and at the heart of what indigenous peoples are asking for,” she said. “The nations understand the power of education to transform their peoples.”

RELATED: VIU’s next president starts making connections on campus

Many indigenous people have “good reasons” to distrust educational institutions, Saucier explained, adding that she will listen and ensure that VIU continues to develop programming in a respectful way that meets their needs.

“I commit to you that I will listen hard to what is said and to the silence between the words, to what is not said,” Saucier said. “To continue the conversation with the nations about what their needs are and how to meet them.”

Makenzie Leine, VIU’s chair of the board of governors, called Friday’s ceremony a momentous occasion, adding that Saucier is “likely the first president to ever be installed” in a longhouse. She said Saucier is a highly skilled and qualified leader who has the vision to move the university forward.

“Saucier’s accomplishments are impressive,” Leine said, later adding. “She is a brilliant scientist and an experienced leader. She’s also caring, empathetic, open-minded, big-hearted and a curious person who is a strong community builder.”

Saucier was hired earlier this year to replace then-president Ralph Nilson.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo’s Mt. Benson with flares during icy rope rescue

Search and rescue team gets injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance

Sofia Low, left, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black, and Maya Wilch, Departure Bay Eco-School students, will turn down the temperature and wear sweaters on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo students will don sweaters next week as part of energy-saving challenge

Departure Bay Eco-School’s green energy team challenges other classes on National Sweater Day

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo’s NRGH

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All seniors in long-term care on the Island will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
UPDATE: Snowfall warning issued for Nanaimo area, up to 5 cm forecast

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Sofia Low, left, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black, and Maya Wilch, Departure Bay Eco-School students, will turn down the temperature and wear sweaters on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo students will don sweaters next week as part of energy-saving challenge

Departure Bay Eco-School’s green energy team challenges other classes on National Sweater Day

VIU’s health and science centre. (Vancouver Island University photo)
VIU to train 72 health-care assistants to work with seniors

B.C. Ministry of Health announces details of health career access program

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Most Read