Indigenous Studies, FASS News, Faculty

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2022

September 28, 2022

Simon Fraser University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (SFU) 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. As we honour the second ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, we recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.

Below you will find a summary of how FASS faculty, staff, and students are working to answer the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action

Indigenizing FASS

New master's degree program established to support Indigenous language revitalization

In response to the urgent need expressed by Indigenous communities in British Columbia and Yukon to produce advanced speakers and documentarians of their languages, Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has established the Master of Arts in Indigenous Languages and Linguistics (INLL). Approved in March earlier this year by the Ministry of Advanced Education, the new master’s program is offered through the Department of Linguistics and the Indigenous Languages Program (INLP).

INDG-Online is supported by Aboriginal Strategic Initiatives (ASI), as per the SFU ARC report. Through this project, Indigenous Studies (INDG) courses were developed, updated, and digitized for accessible online delivery and learning, making it possible for students to remotely complete an INDG Research Certificate and/or Minor.

Listening and unlearning from the heart

"What does it mean to bring reconciliation into the classroom?" Reconciliation begins and continues with you and your relationships: your relationship to the land you live upon, to the Indigenous peoples who have stewarded the land since time immemorial, to your family, friends, peers—to your community. It begins from the heart of who you are in combination with what you do. In reconciliation, you are at once listening, learning, and unlearning. And it is a process that can be (and should be) uncomfortable or difficult. Importantly, for reconciliation to be meaningful, it requires action.

What do Unceded Lands really mean? New course at SFU – Treaties in Canada – teaches colonial legislation, Indigenous leadership, and more

As a meaningful contribution to education for reconciliation, SFU’s Department of Indigenous Studies introduced a new course this year titled, INDG 305: Treaties in Canada authored by Madeleine Reddon. This microcredit course invites students to study the background and process of treaty negotiations alongside Indigenous oral histories, knowledge, and resistance to treaty infringements and other legislation.

Student Stories

The Social Echoes: Learning to Unlearn

In Brenda Morrison's course CRIM 416, “A National Crime: Governance, Justice and Indian Residential Schools,” students spent the term learning about and processing the impact of the Indian Residential School System through the lens of rights, justice, and reconciliation. Through text, film, and guest speakers, Morrison’s course facilitated students’ understanding of how the Indian Residential School System affected the health, education, and well-being of entire generations of Indigenous children and families.

“Dahoojai suyoozi Vanessa Gottfriedson, dakelh nesdli ulkatcho huya. Hello, my name is Vanessa Gottfriedson, I am Carrier, and I come from Ulkatcho.”  Vanessa Gottfriedson’s journey towards earning her bachelor of arts degree in Indigenous Studies from SFU started in 2005. Now a mother of four, Vanessa completed her degree over the course of 17 years while raising her growing family in Kamloops.

iTaukei alumnus, Ashley Kyne, graduated with a bachelor of arts in Criminology (Hons) and Indigenous Studies. Learning about the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples has not only allowed Ashley to bond with her family and a community on campus, it has also empowered her to become a strong advocate for others.


Celebrating the launch of the Snuneymuxw language learning hub

At the invitation of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, representatives from FASS travelled to Nanaimo on July 21 to witness the opening ceremony of the new Snuneymuxw Learning Academy (SLA). Located in the building of a former elementary school, the new SLA will act as a language learning hub for Hul'q'umi'num' language learners as well as a site for community programming such as youth mentorship, plant medicine, and employment training.

Haida fashion designer Dorothy Grant brings empowerment and pride to her signature designs, and to SFU's Bill Reid Centre this fall

Dr. Dorothy Grant, OC, was the first Haida fashion designer in Canada. A member of the Raven Clan of Kaigani Haida, Grant learned to sew and weave traditional Haida garments and ceremonial regalia from her maternal grandmother. This fall, FASS welcomed Grant as the Inaugural Bill Reid Centre Fellow.

Deanna Reder discusses Indigenous publishing at the Greg Younging Conversation

Publishing @ SFU hosted their second annual the Greg Younging Conversation. The event uses a TED-talk inspired format to lift Indigenous voices as a tribute to the celebrated editor, author, and scholar, who passed away in 2019. The event featured Cree-Métis scholar Dr. Deanna Reder, Chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies at SFU.



SFU Indigenous Studies Professor, Eldon Yellowhorn, is the principal investigator of a residential school research project. The project seeks to identify and acknowledge children buried at the site, and connect them back with family and communities.

Income Support for B.C.’s Indigenous population inadequate: Report

A new report analyzing the gaps and barriers in income supports for B.C.’s Indigenous peoples will help to inform provincial and federal governments to address poverty among the province’s Indigenous population. SFU economics professor Anke Kessler produced the report in partnership with the First Nation Leadership Council and Indigenous communities from across B.C. Co-author Jacqueline Quinless of University of Victoria’s Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement (CIRCLE) provided research support for the project’s community-based component.

Blackfoot and Cree Revitalization Project team receives Computing Science Diversity Award

The Blackfoot and Cree Revitalization Project team, led by SFU Indigenous Studies professor Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn, has won the inaugural Computing Science (CS) Diversity Award for developing online tools to teach and preserve endangered Indigenous languages. The team built the interactive online resources, or "chatbots," using artificial intelligence capable of learning and mimicking language patterns.

Research: Canadian Taxpayers Federation Is Anti-Indigenous. Why Do Media Quote Them?

Assistant Professor of Sociology Kyle Willmott’s work on anti-Indigenous political advocacy featured in The Tyee. Willmott is Mohawk from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation (Tyendinaga). His article examines the anti-Indigenous political ideas promoted by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, based on research he recently published in the Canadian Review of Sociology. The full article can be found here.

Funds to Support Indigenous Students and Programs

If you would like to donate to support Indigenous students and programs, FASS has several endowments that fund scholarships and awards.

Indigenous Languages Program (INLP)

There are two funds that support Indigenous students studying Indigenous languages at SFU: 

Making Cities Better Together Scholarship for Indigenous Students

The Making Cities Better Together Scholarship program was generously funded in 2022 by ONNI Gives, a donor advised fund established by the Onni Group. The award is intended to provide recognition to Indigenous graduate students and support their enrolment in the Graduate Program in Urban Studies. Donations to the scholarship can be made here.

Mary Steinhauser Memorial Bursary for Indigenous Students

Mary Steinhauser was a sociology/psychology alumni who was working in the BC Penitentiary when she was killed after a 41-hour hostage incident in 1975. Margaret Franz, her sister, set up this bursary and maintains a website about the students who have received these funds. For those wanting to donate to the bursary, donations can be made here.

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