The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president is set to be the first speaker in a new monthly lecture series at Vancouver Island University, addressing how Canada can improve its relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
“Reconciliation is a complex concept that holds a different meaning for each individual,” said Dr. Judith Sayers in a news release from the university.
Sayers is scheduled to speak at VIU’s Nanaimo campus on Monday, Dec. 4, where she plans to talk about the complexities of finding a common definition for reconciliation. Her presentation will be followed by a question period.
“I will also talk about the opportunities and barriers to resolving past grievances and finding new solutions to reconciliation,” she added.
The free monthly lecture series is being hosted by VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, with the intention of stimulating dialogue about the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
“Reconciliation is a new idea in Canada,” said the centre’s director, Douglas White. “We are at an important moment in Canada that calls for national reflection of a deep kind on this topic.”
Another confirmed speaker in the series is Adam Olsen, the MLA for Saanich North and the Islands who is a member of the Tsartlip First Nation. Olsen is scheduled to speak on Jan. 8.
“The province is in transition and the relationship between the provincial government and aboriginal people in B.C. needs to change to keep pace,” he said. “Words are not enough. Change will require action. Creating certainty in British Columbia will require open communication, collaboration and creative thinking.”
With approximately 2,000 indigenous students, one eighth of VIU’s campus is aboriginal. The university hopes to increase this enrollment with the help of a $13.5-million contribution from the Mastercard and Rideau Hall foundations that was announced on Sept. 20. Over the next five years, $9 million of this funding will support scholarships for indigenous students.
Sayers’ talk takes place in Vancouver Island University’s Building 180, Lecture Theatre 134, 4:30-6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.