Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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Honouring the contributions of Indigenous Peoples

June 17, 2020

Sunday June 21 marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, part of National Indigenous History Month that we celebrate in Canada each June. It is a time to reflect upon and appreciate the unique heritage and extraordinary contributions of Canadians of First Nations, Inuit and Métis ancestry.

This year, the need for collective action to advance the cause of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples has never been more urgent. The devastating consequences of discrimination against Indigenous peoples, including the impacts of the residential school system, the numbers of murdered or missing Indigenous girls and women, and the continuing prevalence of anti-Indigenous racism and violence, call upon us, now more than ever, to support Indigenous Peoples, and to build a more equitable and inclusive society.

As a public educational institution, Simon Fraser University bears a special responsibility to promote reconciliation through our educational programming, cultural practices, hiring of Indigenous faculty and staff, and support for Indigenous students. Though much remains to be done, thanks to the commitment of many dedicated people across our campuses, we have made steady progress in recent years.

Guided by the 34 calls to action set out in the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (SFU-ARC) report, Walk This Path With Us, we continue to follow the direction provided by our community. And this week, the university made further progress towards the realization of another of the ARC Report’s calls to action, when B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark announced support for a First Peoples’ Gathering House on the Burnaby campus.

On June 21, SFU will host a virtual Indigenous Honouring Ceremony at which representatives of the university will gather with Elders, family, friends and community members to celebrate the 143 Indigenous students who graduated from SFU during the past year. These new alumni have shown remarkable determination in completing their studies, and each one adds momentum to the process of reconciliation.

Congratulations to the students we celebrate this week, and thank you to all those who have supported our reconciliation efforts at SFU. By helping to build a brighter future for Indigenous students and their communities, we help to build a brighter future for all Canadians.