At Vancouver Island University (VIU), we strive to create space for truth and reconciliation in action. In recognition of National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, VIU supports and is proud of the strong partnership we enjoy with Tla’amin Nation and all the First Nation communities we share knowledge and co-create with.
VIU remains firm in its commitments to Truth and Reconciliation through working closely with Indigenous nations and communities to further realize the TRC’s Calls to Action and to implement recommendations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Much work still needs to be done for Canada to acknowledge the history and the truth about its abhorrent actions toward Indigenous peoples.
The partnerships between VIU and Indigenous communities are core to our identity. On our campuses, we have worked to create spaces of belonging and provide support for Indigenous students.
This is why VIU has been in discussion with Tla’amin Nation about a new name for the Powell River campus. We recognize that memorializing Israel Powell through the name of our campus causes harm and continued trauma for First Nations and we cannot truly be a place of belonging for everyone without a name change for the campus.
Reconciliation cannot begin without acknowledging the truth of the injustice and trauma inflicted by the Government of Canada in its efforts to wrongfully assimilate and eliminate the culture of Indigenous peoples. The names of the individuals who carried out this work have no place on our campus, nor our communities.
~ Richard Horbachewski is VIU's associate vice president, external relations.