Indigenous Studies, FASS News, Faculty

FASS recognizes Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 27, 2021

Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) respectfully acknowledges 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. 

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at SFU is committed to the principles of Canada's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. September 30 is a day to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.  

This page outlines how FASS faculty, staff and students are working to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action. In addition to our institutional Reconcili-action Plan, drafted by SFU's first Director of Indigenous Relations, Jessie Williams, you'll find a selection of FASS News profiles, highlighting how people throughout FASS have been advancing the work of reconciliation. 

You'll also find FASS-supported resources open to the academic community and the public at-large. Read about the Bill Reid Centre's digital collection; learn Haida phrases or listen to stories or children's songs via the First Nations Language Centre; watch Dr. Deanna Reder's presentation for FASS' 2020 Developing Minds conference, where she offers strategies for "Reading the Indigenous Archive."

Interim FASS Reconcili-action Plan

We are grateful to Jessie Williams, SFU's first Director of Indigenous Relations, who worked with former Dean Jane Pulkingham, FASS faculty and staff to craft an interim Reconcili-action Plan.

FASS has the largest participation of Indigenous students enrolled in programs SFU-wide — approximately 57% of SFU's Indigenous undergraduate students are based in FASS programs. FASS also has broad experience gained from delivering three strong Indigenous focused programs — the Indigenous Language Program, Indigenous Studies, and the Indigenous University Preparation Program. The Faculty has the responsibility and the honour of leveraging this knowledge in order to grow and evolve our understanding and implementation of Indigenous teachings into our academic endeavours.

Note: The permanent position of Director, Indigenous Relations, is currently open for applications.

* FASS-Reconcili-action.pdf
Interim FASS Reconcili-action Plan

doing the work

Above: Watch the speeches and graduation ceremony of the 2021 graduates from the Yukon Native Language Centre and the Council of Yukon First Nations. We are grateful to the fluent speakers who generously shared their languages and culture, and celebrate the learners who graduated through SFU's Indigenous Languages Program.

We recognize that bringing the work of reconciliation, Indigenization, and decolonization into our work at the university is a long-term project. It is ongoing and labour-intensive. We are grateful for the hard work of our faculty and students who are collaborating with Indigenous communities, innovating curriculum, engaging with Indigenous students, and seeing them through both personal and academic milestones. Here are just a few of the highlights of this work as covered in FASS or SFU News:

Increasing indigenous representation

  • Indigenous faculty now represent about four per cent of total FASS continuing faculty complement. In the last two years, we have welcomed:
Above: Dr. Deanna Reder, Indigenous Studies, speaks at a President's Faculty Lecture on The Obligations of Stories.

FASS Resources for learning more

Community Resources for learning more

  • Ceremonies have been organized at all three campuses in the week of September 27–30. Please visit SFU's page for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for details and for additional resources and events.
  • In Vancouver: Xweýene:msta:m ?əkwəsqwel, seýeḿ (translation: call to witness / listen to respected one) is a performance to honour Orange Shirt Day on Thursday, September 30, 2021, 12 noon, presented by the Vancouver Art Gallery.
  • Online: Drum for the Children, a virtual event on September 30 at 2:15 pm PST, organized by Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.
  • The National Centre for Truth and Reconcilliation at the University of Manitoba. As a place of learning and dialogue, NCTR houses archives, reports, and resources. As the website describes, it is a place where "the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations." Visitors to the website can access statements from Survivors, their families, staff and those affected by the residential school system as well as an interactive map of residential schools within Canada, or read through the TRC's published research. 
  • University of Alberta's Indigenous Canada, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) by the Faculty of Native Studies
  • is a website and mobile app by the Indigenous-run not-for-profit Native Land Digital. Learn more about the Indigenous land you're on, specifically about the nation, language, or treaties that exist where you are.

Funds to Support Indigenous Students and programs

If you would like to donate to support Indigenous students and programs, FASS has three endowments.

* Dr. Aimee August was a Secwépemc elder who compiled the first Secwépemc language-learning kit for the local community. She received an honourary degree from SFU in 1992.  Dr. Ruby Peter received an Honorary Degree from SFU for her work in helping train the next generation of Hul’q’umi’num’ language teachers and researchers. This fund supports work that is done in the Indigenous Languages Program.

Below: Nancy Johnson, Gitxsan Nation, was the first student to receive the Mary Steinhauser Memorial Bursary in 2012.