Three totem poles stand tall outside Shq’apthut

Three totem poles stand tall outside Shq’apthut

VIU events promote reconciliation with indigenous people

NANAIMO – Schedule features speakers, panels and artists to bridge relationships with First Nations.

By Janina Stajic

Vancouver Island University is honoured to announce the start of Reconciliation Road: Join the Journey with VIU, a series of events and activities that support the process and meet the challenge of reconciliation between Canada’s indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, released in 2015, included a clear call to action for educational institutions to take responsibility for leading the way in addressing the challenge of reconciliation.

Reconciliation Road is one more step in the ongoing journey of this work to create a welcoming, supportive and culturally relevant environment for indigenous students and another way VIU is honouring the responsibility laid out by the commission.

“We are at a pivotal moment in our country’s history, made even more critical by the calls to action of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Douglas White III, director of VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation. “We face a great challenge as a nation; one that requires real courage and leadership from every indigenous person and every Canadian. We must, all of us together, change, grow, and bring into being a new version of our country that is built upon respect, recognition, justice and altruism.”

The goal of Reconciliation Road is to engage Canadians across the country in numerous events, activities and conversations, that are focused on the challenge of reconciliation, why it’s important, and how they can get involved.

There are more than 20 events planned for the series. Key events include a concert with Buffy Sainte-Marie, part of the Port Theatre’s Spotlight series; the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Council to the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, that includes national leaders such as TRC Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild; the second annual Indigenous Speaker Series in partnership with the Laurier Institution and CBC Radio One Ideas; and Testify, which pairs lawyers and artists together to create conversations around the theme of reconciliation.

As well as the cornerstone events, numerous other activities will be taking place including: a panel on Indigenous law and reconciliation at the State of the Island Economic Summit; Coast Salish protocol sessions; an indigenous book circle; workshops on conversations toward reconciliation and healing; and the national MBA Games in January 2017, hosted by VIU’s MBA department and focused on raising awareness of the Moose Hide campaign, which aims to address violence against indigenous women and girls.

A full list of events and activities is available at www.viu.ca/reconciliationroad.

Janina Stajic is manager of VIU’s communications department.