Simon Fraser University respectfully acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples, including the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples, on whose unceded traditional territories our three campuses reside.
In acknowledging all the land holders of shared territories, we take on the responsibility of reconciliation by understanding the truth and stories of these lands and the peoples’ relationships and responsibilities to these lands.
You can take action by learning more about Indigenous peoples in B.C., exploring their visual culture and developing your positionality statement or land acknowledgement. Learn about residential schools in Canada, access resources and supports relating to recent discoveries of unmarked gravesites and take action to honour the lives lost.
SFU taking action
Important reconciliation and decolonization work is being done across SFU by individuals, teams and departments as the university continues to transform and become a leader in Indigenizing our curriculum.
Reconciliation is one of President Joy Johnson’s priorities. In 2018, SFU began implementing 34 calls to action from an SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s report.
Current actions we are working towards
- Establishing a new Indigenous leadership position. A working group has been struck, co-chaired by Squamish Councillor and Spokesperson and SFU alumnus Chris Lewis and Provost Catherine Dauvergne. This group will provide advice on the position, the portfolio and supports for this new leader. This listening and engagement process will take approximately six months and will be guided and led by Indigenous protocols and practices to understand the needs and wishes of local Indigenous communities, on whose shared territories SFU campuses reside.
- Supporting the actions called for in Looking Forward... Indigenous Pathways To and Through Simon Fraser University, co-authored by Dr. Michelle Pidgeon, Joe Tobin, Trina Setah, Andrea Leveille, Donna Dunn, Mindy Ghag, Karen Johnson, and Dr. Tania Bubela and released in January 2021. The report has been received by the provost, and work on an Indigenous leadership position is the first implementation step. The provost is also working alongside the Indigenous community at SFU on a funding framework and a three year implementation plan.
- Entering a Memorandum of Understanding with Tsleil-Waututh Nation and renewing an agreement with Squamish Nation to continue our path in deepening our relationships with local First Nations.
- Continued emphasis on scholarship programs, such as the Aboriginal Student Entrance Award and the Langara Admission Pathway, which has five dedicated awards.
- Commitment to strike a working group to look at Indigenous naming of spaces and places on our campuses.
Significant actions to date
- Expansion of the Indigenous Student Centre (expansion space opening this Fall).
- The design of a First Peoples’ Gathering House (FPGH) is underway and being led by an Indigenous architect and SFU Indigenous leads, with input from Indigenous students and faculty, and local First Nations. Site 2 Strand Hall Annex was identified and recommended as the preferred site. The FPGH will be built on this site with funds from the SFU Aboriginal Strategic Initiative, provincial government and other SFU sources.
- The Faculty of Education has begun creating the TRC Memorial Gardens and Outdoor Classroom, a place-based learning space for all SFU students, staff and faculty.
- The Growing Community-based Indigenous Language Project (GCILP) designed and presented a minor to improve language degree scaffolding (approved by senate), hired a post-doctoral student to advance research into language proficiency and worked with two communities to apply to the new language proficiency funding available to communities to advance Indigenous language as second language acquisition.
- An Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre (ICRC) has been created. The Centre will be comprised of both a physical collection of resources to lend, and an online resource guide that will aggregate guides for instructors about Indigenizing curriculum and a selection of resources appropriate for use as course texts, readings, etc. across subject areas.
- Decolonizing Teaching: An Integrated Seminar Series and Grant Program was created to deepen the knowledge base and facilitate challenging conversations about colonialism in Canada’s history.
- A Masters of Educational Leadership Program (MEd) was collaboratively developed by the Faculty of Education and the Squamish Nation and offered in 2019/20.
Read our regular reports which help keep us accountable on advancing reconciliation.
May 2019 & prior
If you have not yet read the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we encourage you to do so. The Calls to Action are of particular relevance to informing SFU's Walk this Path With Us: Report of the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council
February 01, 2021. Looking Forward ... Indigenous Pathways To and Through Simon Fraser University. The report is a comprehensive review and set of recommendations for pathways for Indigenous students to and through Simon Fraser University.
To redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission created 94 calls to action, with calls six through 12 related to education.
SFU offers several courses that include content on residential schools.
- Introduction to Indigenous Studies
- Indigenous People’s Perspective on History
- Indigenous People and British Columbia
- Indigenous Oral Testimony: Theory, Practice, Purpose, Community
Remembering the lives of those who never returned home
Members of the SFU community are remembering the children and adults found buried at former Indian residential schools. Hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered by the Cowessess First Nation, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. Sadly, from the oral histories of First Peoples, we know there will be even more uncovered.
Statement from President Johnson
Thursday June 24, 2021.
Today, for the second time in as many months, we are hearing more sad and disturbing news of the discovery of additional unmarked graves, with 751 Indigenous children and adults found by the Cowessess First Nation, at the former Marieval Indian Residential School. On behalf of the Simon Fraser University community I’d like to express our heartfelt support to all Indigenous People and the intergenerational survivours of the Indian Residential Schools. Read more →
Access support and learn how you can take action to honour those who never made it home.
Learning and research resources
As an educational institution we have a responsibility to educate the community and offer courses and programs for students, as well as resources for staff and faculty and the broader SFU community. Discover admission info and resources for students, and how the Office for Aboriginal Peoples is enacting the calls to action from the Walk This Path With Us report.
For the SFU community at large
The Indigenous Research Institute facilitates and promotes Indigenous related community-based research projects, and the Institute for Indigenous Peoples Health fosters the advancement of a national health research agenda to improve and promote the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.
SFU observed a moment of silence at 2:15 p.m. May 31. The university also lowered its flags, which will remain at half-mast until further notice.
This is a difficult and emotional time for Indigenous members of the SFU community, who continue to navigate the trauma and ongoing harm caused by colonialism and the horrific legacy of residential schools. Supports are available to you, as SFU President Joy Johnson noted in a May 31 message to the community. Please reach out if you need help.
Many are looking for ways to take meaningful action. Please see below for ways to continue supporting Indigenous community members and for educational resources to support further learning on the topics of colonization and residential schools. It’s important community members take personal initiative to access education resources and increase their own understanding of the ongoing harms of colonization and residential schools to avoid the burden of education falling on Indigenous community members. At this time many Indigenous community members need time to grieve and rest.
Supporting Indigenous community members
Faculty, staff and supervisors are encouraged to seek ways to offer support for those who are navigating trauma. Consider flexibility on deadlines, assignments or attendance, and familiarize yourself with the supports available to Indigenous community members.
Resources and calls to action (SFU-specific)
- San’yas: Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Training is a unique, facilitated online training program designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness, and strengthen the skills of those who work both directly and indirectly with Indigenous people. All continuing SFU employees are eligible to take this course with a supervisor’s approval. Continuing SFUFA members are also eligible for this training. Registration details and additional information can be found on the Human Resources website.
- In 2017, SFU's Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (SFU-ARC) released the Walk This Path With Us report, a document that outlines 34 calls to action that will create, support, and sustain a changed and better environment for Indigenous students, staff and faculty at SFU. Community members are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the report and with the latest updates on reconciliation at SFU.
- If you have not yet read the final report prepared by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, you are highly encouraged to do so. Walk This Path With Us was informed by this report, and particularly by the 94 calls to action outlined within it.
- The SFU Library's Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre (ICRC) collects books, articles, websites, and audio-visual materials on Indigenizing curriculum and Indigenous pedagogy, in addition to post-secondary curriculum resources. Instructors are encouraged to visit the ICRC's website to learn how they can support the work of Indigenizing and decolonizing curriculum at SFU.
- Tour the Bill Reid Centre for Northwest Coast Studies to explore the visual culture of Northwest Coast First Nations.
- SFU's three campuses are located on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples. You can visit Native-Land.ca and the Bill Reid Centre to learn more about the peoples who have existed on these lands since time immemorial. More information on territorial acknowledgements can be found on the ICRC website.
Resources and calls to action (general)
- The Tḱemlúps te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band) has a list of suggested actions you can take to support them.
- The SFU Library has compiled a wide variety of resources that support knowledge sharing, teaching, and research about the history of residential schools, their impact on communities, and their legacy today.
- Consider starting with Where Are the Children, an online exhibition that aims to acknowledge the experiences, impacts and consequences of Canada’s Residential School System on Indigenous peoples and promote public awareness, understanding and education of the history and legacy of residential schools.
- The University of Alberta offers Indigenous Canada, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies, that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. The course can be taken for free online.Consider supporting a local, Indigenous-owned business. Shop First Nations has compiled a list of businesses that are open during COVID-19, sortable by province or category.
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is currently providing vital support services for Indigenous communities. You can support their work by making a donation here.
When sharing information with your personal networks please be thoughtful about the resources you share and amplify Indigenous voices and resources. Indigenous stories should always be told by Indigenous people.