2021 Aboriginal Peoples' Supplement

The Office for Aboriginal Peoples is delighted to share our annual newsletter with you, which unlike previous editions, highlights Indigenous initiatives that have taken place over the past two years (2019-2021). 

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Ron Johnston, director, Office for Aboriginal Peoples

Honouring Indigenous leadership at SFU

During the 2019, 2020 and 2021 convocation ceremonies, SFU recognized a number of exceptional Indigenous leaders with honorary degrees.

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New employee training program to strengthen cultural awareness and safety

A new RESPECT (Reconcili-action– Employee–SFU–Professional development– Education–Cultural–Teachings) professional development program for university employees is anticipated to launch in 2022.

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Bringing Indigenous knowledge into the classroom

Ashley Edwards, from Red River Métis, joined the SFU Library team with a mandate to create the Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre (ICRC). The ICRC offers guidance to SFU instructors interested in indigenizing and decolonizing their curricula and pedagogy. 

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SFU President Joy Johnson (right) wears the colour red, symbolizing medicine, is significant to Coast Salish people. SFU Chancellor Tamara Vrooman (left) wears colour blue signifying a transition for Coast Salish people, as a way of embracing the contemporary. Both motifs chosen are used to honour leaders in Coast Salish culture.

Coast Salish motifs at heart of new convocation regalia

During the fall 2020 convocation, SFU’s new chancellor Tamara Vrooman and new president, Joy Johnson, proudly wore newly designed regalia featuring motifs created by Chief Janice George—Chepximiya Siyam’—and Willard ‘Buddy’ Joseph—Skwetsimeltxw, both expert weavers and teachers from the Squamish Nation. 

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New pathways to improve Indigenous learners’ post-secondary experience

Led by SFU’s Indigenous Pathways Planning Group, the Pathways Report provides several innovative recommendations for improving Indigenous students’ access, transition and retention.

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Truth and Reconciliation Garden

Plans are underway for creating a Truth and Reconciliation Memorial Garden and Outdoor Classroom for place-based learning at the Burnaby campus.

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SFU welcomes Indigenous faculty and staff

Meet the faculty and staff members who joined SFU between 2019-2021. 

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Ginger Gosnell-Myers

First Indigenous Fellow appointed to Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue

In November 2019, Ginger Gosnell-Myers became the first Indigenous Fellow at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. A thought leader with a deep understanding of urban Indigenous issues, Gosnell-Myers has years of practice developing public policy and bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

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Ethel Gardner

In Memoriam: Ethel Gardner

SFU mourned the loss of Stó:lō member Ethel Gardner, a former SFU faculty member and SFU PhD alumnus who most recently served as an Elder-in-Residence.

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Andrew Petter, past president and vice chancellor of SFU (centre), his partner Maureen Maloney, professor, School of Public Policy (left), and SFU Indigenous studies professor Rudy Reimer (right).

Honouring former SFU president Andrew Petter

The Office for Aboriginal Peoples hosted a small witnessing (Kwis Ns7eyx̱) ceremony on August 31, 2020 to honour Andrew Petter on his last day as president and vice-chancellor.

The ceremony was conducted in accordance with Coast Salish tradition and protocol, in which the person to be honoured is “stood up” and blanketed as a mark of deep respect and gratitude.

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How Indigenous stonefish traps inspired a mathematical project

SFU teaching professor Veselin Jungic has spent the past decade growing Indigenous students’ enthusiasm for math with a unique program that connects mathematical concepts to Indigenous storytelling, history and tradition.

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A view of the Tla’amin Nation’s fish traps, located on the Sunshine Coast (The Tla’amin Nation).
Steven Point

Coast Salish witnessing ceremony honours B.C.’s former lieutenant governor Steven Point

Tsleil-Waututh singing and drumming rang through Simon Fraser University’s Saywell Hall Atrium last fall celebrating B.C.'s former lieutenant governor, the Hon. Steven L. Point (Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl), and his work to improve Indigenous literacy in British Columbia.

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Marianne Ignace

Royal Society honours Marianne Ignace for language revitalization

Preservation of Indigenous languages has long been at risk. However, thanks to Marianne Ignace, a distinguished professor in the SFU Departments of Linguistics and Indigenous Studies, there have been significant efforts by her and her team to rejuvenate, revitalize and protect Indigenous languages.

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Celebrating Indigenous Graduate Entrance Scholarship Winners

In 2019 and 2020, SFU selected six Indigenous graduate students to receive the Indigenous Graduate Entrance Scholarship. The Office of the Vice-President, Academic established the scholarship in 2013 to encourage Indigenous students to consider graduate studies and, ultimately, a career in post-secondary education.

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The archaeology and media team at work. Photo courtesy Nancy Turner.

Website re-awakens thousands of years of Heiltsuk Nation voices

A new website that illuminates thousands of years of Heiltsuk Nation (formerly Bella Bella) voices and history is the result of more than eight years of collaboration between the Heiltsuk people, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, the Hakai Institute, and producers from Greencoast Media.

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Researchers use ‘two-eyed seeing’ to improve Indigenous children’s health

By combining the strengths of both Indigenous and Western scientific ways of knowing, a research project using the two-eyed seeing approach aims to help improve Indigenous children’s health and development.

Researchers and students in the Faculty of Health Sciences have teamed up with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council (Vancouver Island) and the First Nations Health Authority to lead the new project.

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Rebekah Trudel: a strong Métis wrestler
Justina Di Stasio: coach and Olympic hopeful

Wrestlers tackle adversity through a love of sport

For two Indigenous wrestlers at SFU, community support and their drive to excel keeps their passion alive as they wrap up and reflect on their athletic careers.

From the chance to compete on the national level and develop teaching skills, to honing a sense of team belonging, university athletics has given Rebekah Trudel and Justina Di Stasio an exciting range of opportunities and experiences.

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Forest garden study grows knowledge of traditional practices

SFU’s historical ecologists have found that Indigenous-managed forests—cared for as “forest gardens”—comprise more biologically and functionally diverse species than the surrounding conifer- dominated forests. They also create an important habitat for animals, and pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

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Aerial view showing the location of the Dałk Gyilakyaw forest garden.
The team at Animikii Indigenous Technology in 2019, when they received financing from the Raven Indigenous Capital Partners fund, supported by SFU.

Entrepreneurs’ dreams take flight with SFU support

SFU’s $1-million investment in fall 2020 in the Raven Indigenous Impact Fund (RRIF) is already supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, the Indigenous economy and Indigenous social enterprise.

In a bid to further its commitment to reconciliation, SFU was the first university to invest in the fund. It supports Indigenous entrepreneurs with flexible capital to help them overcome the systemic inequalities created through colonization as they grow their operations.

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Supporting Surrey’s urban Indigenous peoples

In a bid to promote the academic, research and community engagement needs and interests of Surrey’s Indigenous Peoples, SFU and the Surrey Urban Indigenous Leadership Committee (SUILC) signed an agreement in early 2019.

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Celebrating First Nations language graduates

SFU’s new master’s program in linguistics of a First Nations language, which offers professional development for language specialists, saw its first 24 students receive their degrees in June 2019.

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Publisher

Ron Johnston | ronaldj@sfu.ca

Associate Publisher

Gary George | ggeorge@sfu.ca

Editor

Monica Bisal | mkbisal@sfu.ca

Contributors

Tiffany Akins, Rosetta Cannata, Steve Frost, Ayomide Gbadamosi, Geoff Gilliard, Melissa Hudson, Cheska Juliano, Diane Luckow, Christine Lyons, Sharon Mah, Alyssa Quan, Melissa Shaw, Justin Wong, Clarissa Yap

Previous editions