June 02, 2021


Dear colleagues, staff and students, 

I was shocked and appalled to read the news on the burial site of Indigenous children at Kamloops Residential School over the weekend. It is a stark reminder of the atrocities that have been perpetrated against Indigenous people in Canada, which sadly continue to occur, for example in the case of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children.

As you know our department has had a long connection with the First Nations communities of the Kamloops area through its language revitalization and maintenance programs there. As professor Ignace informs me, we also maintain partnerships with many other Indigenous communities throughout the Secwepemc Nation, and among neighbouring and more remote Indigenous communities in British Columbia whose children were sent to the Kamloops Indian Residential Schools during its long history of operation between 1890 and 1978. The multiple intergenerational impacts of the genocide wreaked upon Indigenous communities was caused by policies of colonization, assimilation, and oppression. It produced linguicide, cultural genocide and deaths. This impact continues to reverberate among our current students in the Indigenous Languages program, their families and communities.

It is important that at this tragic moment, we extend not only our sympathy to our colleagues and students in the INLP, but also that we renew our commitment to them; that we will stand with them in solidarity and that we will work with them and for them to help strengthen their communities and their culture as best we can.

Panayiotis Pappas, PhD, Professor of Linguistics


SFU campuses are located on the unceded and traditional territories of the  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) Nations.


For students, faculty and staff who experience grief, trauma and/or loss, support is available:

• Indigenous Student Centre 
• Elders Program
• KUU-US Crisis Line – provides an Indigenous specific crisis line for Indigenous residents of BC, available 24 hours a day/7 days a week 

Please also see a message from our President and Vice Chancellor, Joy Johnson, for further links to helpful resources here.