Chief Shawn Atleo appointed Chancellor for Vancouver Island University

July 7, 2008 - 3:16am

Robin Kenyon, Board Chair for the new Vancouver Island University (VIU) announced today that Chief Shawn Atleo (A-in-chut) has been appointed as the University's first Chancellor. Chief Atleo will be installed in the role of Chancellor at a community ceremony in Nanaimo, September 2008.

"The Board and the Administration at VIU are honoured that Chief Atleo has accepted the position of University Chancellor," said Kenyon.  "Through his many leadership roles over the past twenty years, Chief Atleo has focused on the empowerment of people and their communities; it is these values and his strength of character that we believe mirror the values and direction of VIU."

Chief Atleo is currently the Regional Chief of British Columbia to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and has been an elected member of the AFN Executive Committee since January 2004. Chief Atleo is a Hereditary Chief of the Ahousaht First nation.

"Chief Atleo is a well-known leader for First Nations people of British Columbia and he will play a significant role in shaping the landscape of one of British Columbia's newest universities," said Premier Gordon Campbell. "Vancouver Island University has been given a mandate to work closely with our First Nations and Coastal Communities and this appointment will help support that mandate."

Atleo graduated in 2003 with a Masters of Education in Adult Learning and Global Change from the University of Technology, Sydney Australia. He is also a founding member of the BC First Nations Leadership Council.

According to VIU President Dr. Ralph Nilson, the role of Chancellor is an important position for VIU.  "A Chancellor not only acts as a figurehead for the University's activities but is also chosen as an individual who embodies a set of principles that the university emulates.  Chief Atleo will serve as an exceptional representative for VIU and a role model for the various constituencies the University serves.  I believe his past and future success as a leader, as well as his dedication to education and communities, will inspire our students and enrich the learning environment at VIU.  We are very thankful that Chief Atleo has agreed to serve the people of Vancouver Island and our university in this capacity."

"Malaspina University-College played a significant role in our communities, so too will Vancouver Island University, said Atleo. As one of Canada's newest universities VIU will continue to support learners, shape our region's future and secure their place in a fast paced global economy. I am very honoured to have been asked to work with VIU in meeting the challenges and creating opportunities for the people living and learning on beautiful Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.


  • Vancouver Island University (VIU) has the highest aboriginal participation rate of any post secondary school in BC

  • 10% of VIU's student body is aboriginal

  • Vancouver Island University, formerly Malaspina University-College is one of five new Universities in the Province of British Columbia

  • VIU has four campuses on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, with its main campus in Nanaimo

  • VIU's total student population is in excess of 18,000 full- and part-time learners

  • Regional Chief Atleo is Chairman of the First Nations Government Framework National Committee and Vice-Chair of the National Fisheries Committee

Regional Chief Atleo recently co-chaired the National Bill – 30 Task Force on Specific Claims, resulting in the development of the independent Claims Tribunal and establishment of a 2.5 billion dollar claims settlement fund.

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