Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and Simon Fraser University sign Memorandum of Understanding
Squamish Nation and Simon Fraser University (SFU) signed a three year (renewable) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on November 29.
The MoU further strengthens the long-standing relationship between the university and the Squamish Nation to collaborate on cultural, academic and research activities.
Under the MOU, both partners will explore opportunities to:
- Strengthen cultural protocols and events between the parties;
- Strengthen administrative protocols between the parties;
- Exchange information and expertise to strengthen and enhance services and programs at SFU and in the community in collaboration with SN;
- Discuss recruitment and retention initiatives as they concern SN community;
- Discuss and collaborate on potential programs. For example, language course development and offerings;
- Discuss and collaborate on initiatives involving SN youth. For example, summer camps, tutoring, sports, and orientation and life skills training.
- Discuss joint research initiatives; and
- Discuss the utilization of SN cultural resources and experts by SFU, and vice versa.
“The MOU is a commitment to continue to build a relationship with SFU so that the university becomes a place where our students attend and thrive both culturally and academically,” says Chris Lewis, councilor of the Squamish Nation and member of the SFU Board of Governors. “We look forward to working with SFU to develop in the community training, projects and research.”
SFU’s Burnaby and Vancouver campuses are located on the traditional territories of the Squamish as well as well as the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Kwikwetlem Nations. Faculty and staff of Squamish ancestry work across the university and campuses. The MOU signing follows a rich SFU history of community engagement with the Squamish Nation and other Nations.
Louis Miranda LL.D. (Sxaalttxw), a member of the Squamish Nation and noted Linguist, received an honorary doctorate degree from SFU in 1981.
Ian Campbell, hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation, is among the first graduates of SFU’s Executive MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership (EMBA ABL), offered by SFU’s Beedie School of Business. The EMBA ABL is Canada’s first credited MBA for Aboriginal leaders, entrepreneurs and individuals working with Aboriginal communities.
SFU’s First Nations Language Centre is leading an ambitious seven-year project, in partnership with First Nations, to maintain and revitalize 12 B.C. indigenous languages. These include a certificate program that prepares students to become fluent in the Squamish language (Skwxwú7mesh Sníchim). SFU also offers a unique graduate diploma program offered by the Faculty of Education in partnership with the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and the District of North Vancouver is supporting educators to infuse indigenous knowledge and practices into their curricula.
In 2016, SFU convened an Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC) to facilitate broad discussion on how the university could address the 94 recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. SFU has demonstrated its determination to take action with a $9-million, three-year strategic investment to support reconciliation calls to action at all three campuses.
Over the past 18 months Lewis co-chaired the ARC initiative with Dr. Kris Magnuson (Dean, Faculty of Education, SFU), working closely with the Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council to help steer the community consultation, and inform and then present the Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s final report.
In October, the report, “Walk This Path With Us,” was formally transferred to SFU President Andrew Petter in a traditional Coast Salish witnessing ceremony attended by First Nations and Métis peoples, government representatives, students, faculty, staff and members of the broader community.
“SFU looks forward to deepening our collaboration with the Squamish Nation to create new pathways to support indigenous students, staff and faculty and strengthening existing ones,” says SFU Vice-President of External Relations Joanne Curry.
“The MoU will help us do this important work and create further connections to the community.”