The Re-VIU: Top 20 stories of 2023


VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deborah Saucier and Dallas Smith, Nanwakolas Council President, sign an agreement for the Stewardship Technician Training Program while Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, looks on.

December 21, 2023 - 12:00pm

From climate anxiety to cheese rolling, psychedelic research and a big moment for mushrooms, these were VIU’s top stories of 2023.

Delaney Irving

#1: Say cheese

Our most unusual mention comes courtesy of VIU Theatre student Delaney Irving, who won a unique global contest – in a very unique way. Irving made headlines globally when she won the women’s competition in the 2023 Coopers Hill cheese-rolling competition in Gloucester, England, last spring, though it came at the cost of a concussion and a brief period of unconsciousness. Read more.

members of the VIU Mariners women's volleyball celebrate after a point

#2: The VIU Mariners: awards and banner season 

Danielle Hyde was named named the 2023 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) athletic director of the year and Bobbie Taylor was Soccer Coach of the Year. These announcements capped off an amazing year for the Mariners that saw the varsity soccer, basketball and volleyball teams all qualify for national championship tournaments – a feat unmatched by any other Canadian post-secondary institutions. Read more.

wooly dog research

#3: Uncovering the past of the Coast Salish “Woolly Dog”

Liz Hammond-Kaaremmaa, a VIU honorary researcher who works with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, interviewed Coast Salish Knowledge Keepers, Elders, weavers and people with a knowledge of woolly dogs for input and that helped dispel colonial thinking about the demise of the dogs. The team’s research was published in the journal ScienceRead more.

Erik Krogh

#4: Is a chemical in car tires killing salmon? 

Chemistry Professor Dr. Erik Krogh is among a group of researchers working with community groups to collect data about 6PPD-quinone, a compound from tire runoff that may be connected to pre-spawn mortality of salmon in local streams. Read more.

Nanaimo remembers

#5: Remembering our fallen soldiers 

A VIU video memorial project that tells the story of Nanaimo soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First and Second World Wars was displayed across the city in the 11 days leading up to Remembrance Day. “The project shares details of each soldier’s life, revealing the people behind those names on the cenotaph. You get a deeper sense of what remembrance means,” said Dr. Stephen Davies, Director of VIU’s Canadian Letters and Images Project. Read more. 

lindsay mccunn

#6: The psychological effects of climate change

Climate change can have both a physical and mental effect. Dr. Lindsay McCunn is a VIU Psychology Professor and chair of the environmental psychology section of the Canadian Psychological Association. She spoke to CBC about how the record wildfire season and concerns over climate change can affect mental health – particularly in young people. Read more

Jeff lewis

#7: Climate change top of mind for students 

After a summer marked by unprecedented wildfire and drought, Geography Professor Dr. Jeff Lewis told CTV News it’s not surprising that climate change is weighing heavy on the minds of students at the start of the new school year. Read more.

Dr. Georgina Martin

#8: Collaborating on psychedelic research

VIU launched a collaborative psychedelic research centre to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives together for research, treatment and program development. Known as the Naut sa mawt Centre for Psychedelic Research, it’s the first of its kind in Canada. Dr. Georgina Martin, VIU Professor in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies and the centre’s Indigenous research lead, said this research caught her attention because of the possibilities it offers for treatment of intergenerational trauma. Read more.

stewardship guardian signing

#9: Indigenous guardianship program

VIU and Nanwakolas Council signed an agreement in October to deliver an intensive environmental protection course, supported by provincial funding.”You could really go anywhere with the training,” said Candace Newman of the K’ómoks First Nation, who earned her Stewardship Technician Training Program certificate in 2021. Read more.

inside out program

#10: Offering education to incarcerated individuals

The Inside-Out program offers prison-based post-secondary academic courses to groups composed of both university students (outside students) and incarcerated students (inside students), who learn together. Last spring, CTV News had the chance to sit in on a class and interview both inside and outside students. Read more.

deep bay beer

#11: Crafting awareness about climate change research

VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station and Love Shack Libations partnered to create a gose-style beer called “There Gose the Ocean” that launched at Victoria Beer Week earlier this year. The special ingredient is algae because the research station produces algae in its lab to feed shellfish larvae. Read more.

Kyle duncan

#12: Taking a deeper look at tumour metabolism

Chemistry Professor Dr. Kyle Duncan is co-leading a Spatial Metabolomics Hub that aims to give clues to the origin and behaviour of cancer. He was part of a team of researchers who received a $2.4-million grant from the Terry Fox Research Institute. Read more.

Spenser smith

#13: From addiction to poetry

Struggling with substance use in his hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan, Spenser Smith decided to come to a residential treatment centre in Nanaimo. Following his treatment, he made the decision to stay in the city and enroll in VIU’s Creative Writing program to chase his dreams of becoming a writer. The VIU alum has now published his first book of poetry. Read more.

students in auto mechanics class

#14: VIU helps newcomers to Canada enter trades careers

A unique new program at VIU is helping newcomers to Canada who want to pursue a career in the trades. Called Trades Pathways for Newcomers, program supports newcomers by ensuring they have the skills, knowledge and supports to successfully transition into the educational programs that will get them there. Read more

jasmine janes

#15: A big moment for mushrooms

The wet weather and warm temperatures created “perfect” conditions for wild mushroom foraging this fall, Biology Professor Dr. Jasmine Janes told CTV. She also spoke about the health and wellness benefits mushrooms provide. Read more.


#16: VIU launches its first community festival

More than 2,000 people came to VIU’s Nanaimo campus in October for the university’s first-ever DiscoverFest community festival. DiscoverFest offered live music, entertainment and exhibits featuring university programs. It included pumpkin carving, courtesy of the VIU Culinary Arts department, and ice cream from the VIU Chemistry Club, made using a reaction with liquid nitrogen. Read more.

Paula Waaiitanen

#17: Evolution of education

Engaging students with real-world problem solving outside of the classroom is one way to ensure that education is preparing students for future careers, VIU Education Professor Paula Waatainen told Global News. She talked about how the education system is evolving to better engage students and help them recognize their interests and skills. Read more.

mark holland

#18: Making municipalities more sustainable

City planner and VIU Community Planning Professor Mark Holland shared his thoughts on what municipalities need to take into consideration when planning for a more sustainable future with Global TV. Read more.

giving Tuesday 2023

#19: VIU Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign raises $350,000

VIU students will have more access to scholarships, awards and bursaries following the university’s annual Giving Tuesday campaign. The campaign, which wrapped up on Tuesday, November 28, saw the community band together to support students, raising more than $350,000 for scholarships, bursaries, awards and special initiatives. A record-breaking number of new donors engaged with the campaign for the first time. Read more.

April fools photo

#20: New courses at VIU embraced by social media

Were you fooled? For April Fool’s Day, VIU shared it’s newest course offerings: Marmot Yoga, Glamping 101 and Sasquatch Psychology for a deep dive into Island life. There were more than a few disappointed people on the socials when the April 1 connection was made. Read more. 

Tags: Announcements | Athletics | In the Community | Research | Teaching and Learning

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