Land as Life: Ongoing Institutional Resistance and Survivance in Pandemic Times

March 26, 2021

About the panel

Land as Life is a community-led and created undergraduate course in the Faculty of Xwulmuxw/Indigenous Studies at Vancouver Island University (VIU) that has been running for 18 years. The class is structured around teaching and learning in community-engaged settings, off campus from Elders and community members from local nations, such as the Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus, Quw’utsun and Penelakut territories. In the past, prior to COVID-19, the Elders and Knowledge Keepers were explicit that their teachings could not be recorded at any point by anyone. In these complex times, they changed perspectives due to the importance they found in sharing local Indigenous knowledge with students, and created hour-long videos, themed for each of the seven days of the course. 

In the Field Stories symposium, we hope to cultivate a dialogue on the theme CER in Times of Crisis through reflection on the data taken throughout the course from students, student-helpers, course instructors and Elders/Knowledge Keepers. We hope to engage in conversation that addresses the following complex community-engaged research themes that were unearthed:

  1. the virtual adjustments that Elders quickly made to share their traditional knowledges,
  2. the ethical considerations that accompany information gathering, and
  3. the question of scientific versus community-engaged research credibility as knowledge valued in academic research.

We envision a conversation that addresses the question of how the university can cultivate community-engaged research for social and cultural sustainability in good relation with people, community and land? We look forward to contemplating and discussing these challenging issues to benefit our communities and beyond.


Date: March 26, 2021
Panel Time: 11:00 - 11:50am PT


Online via Zoom
Note: This event is held via Zoom Webinar and will be recorded. A link to the Webinar will be distributed via email to registrants prior to the event.


Amanda Claudia Wager (Principal Investigator), PhD is a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Community-Engaged Research and Professor in the Faculty of Education at Vancouver Island University in British Columbia, Canada.

Georgina Martin (Co-Principal Investigator), PhD is Secwepemc, Professor and Chair in the Department of Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC.

Laurie Meijer Drees (Course Instructor), faculty member at VIU in the Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies Department since 1998, is a former TRC researcher and dedicated to community-based research, teaching and learning.

Fred Speck (Course Student/Research Assistant) is of Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry from the Gwawaenuk and Tlowitsis tribes, both located in the northeastern Vancouver Island region. He has lived within the sacred traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people for 21 years. Fred is also a current student entering third year of the Xwalmuxw/Indigenous BA Program at Vancouver Island University.

Chelsea Thomas (Research Assistant) is a Canadian-Afro-Caribbean-Celtic mom of four unschoolers with a deep gratitude for the traditional territories of the Quw’utsun peoples on which she currently lives, works and plays with her family. In addition to motherhood, as a PhD candidate (ABD) at the University of Victoria, research assistant and teacher educator at Vancouver Island University, and Education & Curriculum Consultant with the Living Lab, she works to highlight the ways in which healing, learning and life are intricately connected to the building of more equitable and sustainable futures.

Media Creators

As a BC preservice teacher, Rane Love advocates through education and art for those marginalized. Graduating in 2022 with a Bachelor of Education and a minor in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies, she also works for Vancouver Island University as a Research Assistant in the Faculty of Education for the arc: A Centre for Art, Research and Community. 

A recent graduate of the Master of Community Planning program at Vancouver Island University (VIU), Becky Thiessen inspires to create spaces that encourage creativity and community. Currently she works at VIU coordinating community-engaged research projects at the arc: A Centre for Art, Research and Community and the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute. 


  • Qwulshemut Ray Peter, Founder, Land as Life Course
  • Kwulasulwut Dr. Ellen White, Founder, Land as Life Course