Judith Sayers will begin a three-year term as VIU chancellor in the fall. (Vancouver Island University photo)

Tribal council president named as VIU’s next chancellor

Judith Sayers accepts leadership role at Nanaimo university

A tribal council president, former First Nations chief and member of the Order of Canada will be the next chancellor at Vancouver Island University.

The Nanaimo institution announced Monday that Judith Sayers will begin a three-year term as chancellor in the fall, taking over from Louise Mandell.

Sayers, whose traditional name is Kekinusuqs, is president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council supporting 14 nations and 10,000 members. She is former chief of the Hupacasath First Nation and has business and law degrees.

Sayers said in a press release that she was attracted to the chancellor role at VIU because she’s seen how closely the university has worked with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and other First Nations.

“I would like to see those kinds of partnerships continue to grow and flourish. VIU takes its commitment to reconciliation seriously,” Sayers said.

According to VIU’s website, the chancellor advises the university president, sits on the board of governors and senate, and performs ambassadorial and ceremonial duties. Sayers said in the release that she wants to take on a major role in promoting innovative ideas and better understanding through education.

“We need to be more open to working with students to do the kind of research they want to do in their own way,” she said. “So much of indigenous history has never been written properly. When you see our students going out and exploring these areas, for me, it’s very exciting. We need to tell our own stories.”

Deborah Saucier, VIU president, said Sayers’s accomplishments in advancing indigenous rights and promoting sustainable development will set an example for students and the greater community.

“I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Sayers to further advance the indigenization of VIU and I am excited to watch the inspiring effect she will have on students,” Saucier said in the release.

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