Office of the President
Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor
Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President
June 21 highlights importance of journey towards reconciliation
June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day – a time to celebrate the unique heritage and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.
We at Simon Fraser University join in this celebration as part of our larger commitment to honour the history, culture and presence of Indigenous peoples, to support Indigenous persons and communities, and to welcome and nurture Indigenous students.
Thanks to the efforts of many across the university, we have made considerable progress advancing these goals in recent years. Examples include:
- Providing safe and welcoming campus spaces, including the Indigenous Student Centre which received thousands of student visits last year;
- Creating an Elders Program that helps to make Indigenous students feel valued and supported;
- Working to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages through our First Nations Language Centre;
- Offering a groundbreaking Executive MBA in Indigenous Business and Leadership which celebrated its fifth anniversary last fall;
- Increasing Indigenous representation amongst SFU faculty and staff; and
- Celebrating the graduation of over 100 Indigenous students in the 2017-18 academic year.
We also convened the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC) in 2016 to advise the University on what more we can do to support the process of reconciliation. The ARC report delivered to us last Fall, Walk This Path With Us, contains 34 calls to action upon which the University has pledged and is beginning to act.
I am deeply appreciative of the staff, faculty, students and community members who have supported our reconciliation efforts. While progress has been achieved more slowly than I and others would like, we are determined to move forward, ensuring that our Indigenous initiatives are inclusive, transparent and informed by the needs and desires of the Indigenous people and communities we serve.
The SFU community will participate in various events on June 21st to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. On the Burnaby Campus, faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the 100 Drums Event at 10:00 am in Room 9095 of Saywell Hall. (Bring your own drum, or use one provided).
There are also events on June 21st at Surrey’s Holland Park and at New Westminster’s Pier Park, as well as the annual gathering at Trout Lake in Vancouver which will be attended by many SFU representatives. On June 23rd, a free community gathering will take place at Oppenheimer Park.
Universities like SFU bear a special responsibility to foster reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. It is therefore vital that we do not let up in our efforts. As noted by Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, “Education got us into this mess … but education is key to reconciliation.”
Congratulations to the Indigenous graduates who celebrated at the 2018 Honouring Feast