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‘Truth before reconciliation’: A message from the President and Provost

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A Message to UBC Vancouver on behalf of the President and Vancouver Provost

Reconciliation Pole, 7idansuu (Edenshaw), James Hart, Haida. UBC Vancouver

January 17, 2023 – To quote the UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan, “Truth before Reconciliation,” all of our actions need to be based on a fundamental commitment to truth, to openness and transparency, and to humility. We know that this has been a difficult three months since the publication of the stories concerning Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. We are deeply concerned that the issues raised and the university’s response have harmed the Indigenous community at UBC and our Indigenous partners outside the University. UBC’s initial response stated that Indigenous identity had not been an explicit requirement for the appointment of the Academic Director of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. While factually correct, it would have also been understood that it was an implicit expectation. The media reported UBC’s initial statement as constituting support for Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, and the silence from UBC about that interpretation has been viewed as confirmation. We deeply regret the impact of this and promise to do more now, and in the future.

Let us state clearly that we recognize our engagement with the Indigenous community has not been adequate or sufficient to date, and we will strive hard to improve. We believe that we should have met more promptly with the UBC Indigenous community. As we note below, we are taking steps to do that now.

Over the past few months our President and Vancouver Provost have had discussions with Indigenous scholars and community members. Our leadership has also discussed the issues that have arisen from this incident with a few university leaders from across Canada. We seek to learn from the experience of others, but we are aware that our approach to the issues of Indigenous identity at UBC will need to be grounded in the protocols and understandings of BC Indigenous peoples and reflect the community values of Indigenous colleagues across our two campuses, while also drawing on important work on these matters by Indigenous scholars across the country.

While we have sought advice, we want to state emphatically that we take full responsibility for the actions and inactions of UBC in this matter. UBC has committed itself to advancing Indigenous scholarship and intellectual community at every level of the University: through the Indigenous Strategic Plan and its implementation, through our relationships with the Musqueam and the Syilx Okanagan Nation, through our commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. All of this has been led by Indigenous colleagues, and it has required a process of building trust. We recognize that recent months have been challenging on this front and we will do all in our power to grow that trust. We want to make it exceedingly clear that UBC’s leadership is more committed than ever to fulfilling the Action Plan of our Indigenous Strategic Plan; to implementing the principles of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and to Indigenizing wherever possible our programs, curricula, leadership and structures.

The possibility that anyone might misrepresent themselves for personal and professional benefit, or that misleading credentials or publications might be submitted for employment, is one that we take extremely seriously, as these kinds of actions undermine the fundamental mission of a university, divert resources from deserving individuals and strengthen inequities. UBC is committed to scholarly integrity: we investigate allegations of misrepresentation and we engage in processes and procedures to address them. Going forward, as we assess our current approaches to hiring and to the role of Indigenous citizenship/status and truthfulness in hiring, we believe it is important to take the time to consider the complex issues and not to make presumptions or predeterminations about where these discussions will take us or what outcome we will arrive at. In the words of Senator Murray Sinclair quoted in our Indigenous Strategic Plan, “The road we travel is equal in importance to the destination we seek. There are no shortcuts. When it comes to truth and reconciliation, we are forced to go the distance.” We will make sure that discussions on these issues are led by the Indigenous community in a fashion of their own choosing.

In the very near future, we will be in touch about setting engagement opportunities for both of us to hear from Indigenous faculty and staff, something we see as central to our accountability. We do not expect this letter to solve any of the problems that we face – we see it as a step along a path towards meaningful action in the future. We will follow up with engagement with Indigenous students, as we are painfully aware of the toll that this has taken on students as well.

Although this message is directed to colleagues at UBC Vancouver, the President along with the Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the UBCO campus will engage with Indigenous faculty and staff at the Okanagan campus.

The UBC Vancouver campus is proud to be located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people, and this relationship inspires us to make our campus one where Indigenous faculty, staff and students feel respected, valued, safe, and heard.

We respectfully acknowledge the Syilx Okanagan Nation and their peoples, in whose traditional, ancestral, unceded territory UBC Okanagan is situated.

Respectfully,

Deborah Buszard
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor

Gage Averill
Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver

This article was originally published by the Office of the President.

The post ‘Truth before reconciliation’: A message from the President and Provost appeared first on Indigenous Portal.

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UBC

Indigenous Career Fair 2024

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Come by First Nations Longhouse for the first ever Indigenous Career Fair.

Are you in search of summer work opportunities or a pathway into your career post-graduation?

The First Nations House of Learning invites Indigenous students to UBC’s inaugural Indigenous Career Fair on Thursday, February 1st, from 3:30–5:30pm at Sty-Wet-Tan Great Hall. Prospective employers representing a variety of sectors will offer insights into their summer internship openings, discuss career opportunities, and shed light on their workplace cultures. Participating organizations include the First Nations Health Authority, BC Indigenous Youth Internship Program, BC Housing, City of Vancouver, Fraser Health Authority, ICBC, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Two Worlds Consulting, among others.

Individuals who are interested in attending this event are encouraged to attend the Career Fair Prep, Personal Branding, and LinkedIn Session the week before. This session will equip students with the essential tools for success at the career fair. More information is provided below.

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Date & Time: Thursday, February 1, 3:30–5:30pm
Location: Sty-Wet-Tan Great Hall, First Nations Longhouse

Career Fair Prep, Personal Branding, and LinkedIn Session

Are you interested in attending the upcoming Indigenous Career Fair but are unsure of what questions to ask? Would you like to develop or improve your LinkedIn profile?

Indigenous students are invited to join Cody Bugler, Savanah Knockwood, and special guest Rob Kim, LinkedIn Top Voice and Manager at UBC Alumni Career Education for a Career Fair Prep, Personal Branding, and LinkedIn Session on Wednesday, January 24th, from 12:30–1:30pm.

Creating a LinkedIn profile beforehand is encouraged but not required. Light lunch will be served.

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Date & Time: Wednesday, January 24, 12:30–1:30pm
Location: Sty-Wet-Tan Great Hall, First Nations Longhouse

For more information about these events, please reach out to Cody Bugler, FNHL Student Engagement Coordinator, cody.bugler@ubc.ca.

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UBC

Indigenous Community Holiday Craft Fair 2023

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Drop by the First Nations Longhouse and support Indigenous artists and makers.

The First Nations House of Learning is hosting an Indigenous Community Holiday Craft Fair on Thursday, December 7th, from 3–5pm at Sty-Wet-Tan Great Hall.

The UBC community is invited to attend this exciting fair, which celebrates Indigenous art and craftspersonship. Indigenous students, faculty, staff, and community members will be displaying and selling their art and handmade crafts, which include original art pieces, small leather goods, beaded jewelry and accessories, and other exciting wares.

Call for Vendors

Indigenous students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to come out, showcase, and sell their unique crafts and wares. Complete this registration form to reserve a table today. Participation is free for vendors.

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Date & Time: Thursday, December 7, 3–5pm
Location: Sty-Wet-Tan Great Hall, First Nations Longhouse

 

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UBC

Statement from UBC First Nations House of Learning Leadership

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Joely Viveiros

We wish to address recent concerns regarding Buffy Sainte-Marie and her claimed Indigenous identity. We recognize and acknowledge the deep sadness, hurt, anger, and array of emotions that Indigenous people may be experiencing in the wake of these allegations.

To the Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community members at UBC: we stand and walk alongside you.

Sainte-Marie was granted an honorary degree from UBC in 2012. Members of our community have asked if the University will rescind her honorary degree due to recent events.

We believe the priority is to provide time for Indigenous communities to process and come to terms with the news. The University will work collaboratively and closely with Indigenous leadership, faculty, partners, communities and local First Nations to determine next steps relating to this honorary degree.

While this process gets underway, our priority first and foremost is the wellbeing of the Indigenous community at UBC.

To that end, we encourage Indigenous students impacted by this news to utilize the UBC support services, including off-campus Indigenous and community organizations. For UBC employees, we encourage you to reach out to your support networks, including support services provided as part of your employee benefits, or to off-campus ones. Please see the list below for corresponding links.

Sincerely,

Joely Viveiros
Acting Director and Associate Director, First Nations House of Learning, UBC Vancouver

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UBC Vancouver Student Supports

The Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing program aims to provide culturally safe mental health and support services, including offering individual sessions at the Longhouse. More information can be found here: https://students.ubc.ca/health/counselling-services/indigenous-mental-health-wellbeing-program
The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre hosts wellness drop-ins every second Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Elders’ lounge on the upper level of the Centre. Indigenous students, staff, faculty and community members are invited to drop-in to the Centre for tea or coffee and conversation with a Cultural Support Worker. More information can be found here: https://irshdc.ubc.ca/wellness-drop-ins/
Information on general health and wellbeing support services available at UBC Vancouver can be found here:

https://students.ubc.ca/support
https://students.ubc.ca/health/counselling-services
https://students.ubc.ca/about-student-services

UBC Faculty and Staff Supports

Faculty and Staff Mental Health Resources:
https://hr.ubc.ca/health-and-wellbeing/mental-health/faculty-and-staff-mental-health-resources
Helping Faculty and Staff in Distress:
https://hr.ubc.ca/health-and-wellbeing/mental-health/helping-faculty-and-staff-distress
Employee and Family Assistance Program:
https://hr.ubc.ca/benefits/benefit-plan-details/employee-and-family-assistance-program

Off-Campus Supports

Outside of UBC, Indigenous people in B.C. can access culturally safe mental health and wellbeing resources from Canada-wide programs like Hope for Wellness, or through programs from the First Nations Health Authority, and Métis Nation BC.
There are also crisis and support lines, including the KUU-US Indigenous Crisis Line and the Indian Residential School Crisis Line, which can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
The Sixties Scoop Network and Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation also offer support and resources for survivors of the Sixties Scoop and their families.

 

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