SFU First Nations Student Association 2012-2013: A Year in Review

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SFU First Nations Student Association 2012-2013: A Year in Review

By: Laura Forsythe | Indigenous Program Researcher
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Who is actually a member of the FNSA?
All self-identified Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and Status/Non-Status students here at SFU.

Who runs this organization?
The First Nations Student Association is an independent student-run organization and it is not a department of SFU and is not connected to student services at all. We have no employees and all the work we do is done by students for students.

What does the FNSA do for the students here at SFU? And for which students, just First Nations or everybody?
Our mandate is two-fold: to personally, academically, and culturally support self-identified First Nations students (Inuit, Métis, Status and Non-Status) and to educate the campus community on First Nations issues. We are here for all students in one capacity or another. All of our lectures and speaker series are open to the entire student body here at SFU as well as the community at large.
In the past we have also advocated for services and resources for students and the promotion and sponsorship of activities on campus that demonstrate the cultural diversity of First Nations people.Every year we have a feast open to all of SFU to celebrate our culture called the Spring Feast. At this event there are traditional dancers, performers, artisans and craftsmen sharing their culture with the students.

What does the FNSA have to offer First Nations students (Inuit, Métis, Status and Non-Status)?

Personally
The FNSA attempts to create a greater sense of community by providing a space Indigenous students are free to be themselves and meet other Indigenous students that may also be far from home. We also hold socials, be it lunches, dinners and get togethers to help bond students. Many skills are needed to be successful, not just academic ones. Many students need to build their resumes and we host training sessions that will benefit them outside of SFU. Last year we ran a FoodSafe, First Aid and Board Training sessions to improve upon their employable skills.

Academically
As a way to introduce the Learning commons workshops to the students a special session is held for Indigenous students at the FNSA's expense to help the students learn effective study habits and how to best prepare for exams. Many of the First year members are from smaller colleges and need help adjusting to SFU demanding schedules and work load having other Indigenous students to lean on and gain advice from helps the students survive their first terms. The FNSA also hosts large events around the interests and in the field of study of the students in the FNSA that will help them gain networks outside of SFU.

Culturally
Over the past year FNSA has hosted numerous drum making and medicine wheel workshops to help the students gain experience in the many cultures of First Nations in this country. We have also provided a home for the Coast Salish singing group to promote the students learn the art of singing while here in Coast Salish territory. All of our events and meetings are catered by an Indigenous Catering company that can provide traditional food for the students.

If you are a self identified First Nations students (Inuit, Métis, Status and Non-Status) attending SFU and want to become a FNSA member please email fnsa-board@sfu.ca

What does the FNSA have to offer a Non-First Nations person here at SFU?
There are many events that happen throughout the year that you are welcome to attend. All marketed events such as our Aboriginal Criminology Series, Spring Feast, Indigenous orientation events, Indigenous People Career Stories and any FNSA funded events are open for the student body at large. The FNSA partners with both the Women's Centre and SFPRIG to bring attention to issues around advocacy such as the Red Reasoning event that dealt with women and violence, all of these partner events such as this are open to the student body. If you are interested in receiving emails to attend the FNSA events please email fnsa-friends-admin@sfu.ca

What are some of the  FNSA hosted and funded events this past year?

This past Spring FNSA co-hosted the SFU Residential School Week, this included the following lectures:

Where is the "I" in Reconciliation with Marie Wilson, Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, discussed the progress of the TRC to date and the problem of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and European settlers following decades of forced residential schooling of Aboriginal children.

A Residential School Symposium: Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn, Chair of the First Nations Studies Department led a presentation concerning the overall history and legacy of residential schools. A panel of residential school survivors/attendees provided their input concerning their residential school experiences.

A Site for Reconciliation: Continuing Neglect, Residential Education and Child Welfare: Dr. John Milloy, professor of Canadian and Indigenous History at Trent University in Ontario, has done research for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the TRC, and is the author of A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986.

With both the Spring feast and Idle No More happening within a week from each other the FNSA members were extremely busy as 2000 students attended the feast and news crews, community members and politicians were up on the mountain for our collaborated Idle No More event.

As a team building event  the FNSA had a partnership with SFU food bank to recreate our logo in cans. The cans were then divided up between the foodbank and the Aboriginal Friendship center to feed the needy.

A partnership with the Women's centre resulted in an evening of dialogue around women surviving domestic violence in Red Reasoning with Annie Ross, Joyce Fossella, Cease Wyss speaking and a Halloween event for SFU student with children this past year.

Our Aboriginal Criminology Series kicked off with two events last year Cycle of Juvenile Justice: The Crisis of Aboriginal Youth Aboriginal Offenders: and The Generational Healing with the following panelists

  • Flora Raynes, Aboriginal Specialist, Youth Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC

  • Pamela Shields, Barrister & Solicitor, Aboriginal Services Legal Society

  • Richard Lavelle, Aboriginal Liaison, Vancouver Police Department

  • Stephen Anderson, Probation Officer, Ministry of Justice

  • Steve Hanuse, Constable, Musqueam Liaison
  • Doug Owhaniuk, Correctional Program Officer, CSC
  • Arthur Paul, Regional Manager, Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC
  • Gerald Adams, Executive Director, Circle of Eagle Lodges Society
  • Laura Baird, Aboriginal Community Development Officer, Correctional Service of Canada

This Summer the FNSA funded the SFU Indigenous Honoring feast held at the Diamond Alumni club. This annual event is collaborated with committee members from many departments of the University and the FNSA holds a seat on their committee to help with not only funding but the organization of the event.

To read more about some of the FNSA events held last year click on the following:

Posted on October 07, 2013