Provincial Government Funds Expansion of Shq’apthut, VIU’s Indigenous Gathering Place

Nine people gathered around conceptual drawing of Shq’apthut (A Gathering Place)

The Province has provided $3.3 million toward expanding Shq'apthut (A Gathering Place).

April 8, 2022 - 3:45pm

Investment will enhance on-campus learning experience for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students

Indigenous students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) will soon have access to more space as Shq’apthut (A Gathering Place) is expanded at the Nanaimo campus.

The building is a home away from home for Indigenous students where cultural, academic, recreational and social activities are promoted and celebrated.

“Providing cultural spaces on campus is important to Indigenous students and has value to the entire university community. VIU is seeing an increase in Indigenous student enrolment, and we are excited to invest in the facilities that will help support their educational experience,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By expanding Shq'apthut, we can help encourage and welcome Indigenous students to pursue post-secondary education.”

The expanded Shq'apthut building will add more ceremonial space, Elder-in-residence offices and additional washroom facilities, all within a fully accessible building. The new space will be heated and cooled by VIU’s District Geo-Exchange Energy System, which harnesses the geoenergy stored in sunken mine shafts under the campus. The surrounding site will undergo extensive landscaping that will exemplify and celebrate Indigenous culture.

“VIU is proud of its long-standing commitment to reconciliation and our collaborations with the Nations. The expansion of Shq’apthut is a tangible demonstration of our strategic commitment to build stronger partnerships with Indigenous communities in the regions we serve,” said Dr. Deborah Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor. “Working with the provincial government on this project will enhance the on-campus learning experience for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at VIU and allow the Elders the space they need to do their work.”

For more information, read the full media release on BC Government News

Listen to VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deborah Saucier's interview with CBC about the project: 


Tags: Community Engagement | Indigenous | Reconciliation | Announcements