Statement from the President's Office re: Supporting Each Other on Our Road to Reconciliation

February 15, 2018 - 10:30am

We are saddened by the recent court process and convey our deepest sympathies to the family of Colten Boushie, to the Indigenous community and to all Canadians who are negatively impacted. Our institutional community is committed to reconciliation including supporting our Indigenous students, faculty, staff and local communities now and in the weeks, months and years to come. 

At VIU, as stated in our institutional values and our academic plan, we are addressing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and supporting Canada’s implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Education is a key determinate of social change. Universities in general, and VIU in our region, are instrumental in providing space for dialogue and support for a new Canada where we work together to feed the forces of inclusion and starve the forces of exclusion.

Our former Chancellor Shawn “A-in-chut “ Atleo  provided clear messages about the role of education in the new relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada.

“Education has been an instrument of oppression used against us, attacking our identities, fracturing our families and attempting to eliminate our ways of communication, thinking and being. …Our challenge is to work together to overcome the past and to forever turn education from an instrument of oppression to a tool of liberation.” 

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, October 2012

Gatineau, Special Chief Assembly

In 2016, Senator Murray Sinclair reaffirmed this during the tabling of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, stating that:

It was education that generated the horrific consequences of residential schools, and it is education that can move us forward.

During a press conference on Parliament Hill today, the Boushie Family expressed gratitude to Canadians stepping forward and for the Government’s willingness to meet. According to Jade Tootoosis, "we found open doors and open arms.  This gives us hope".  The family concluded that the meetings "have made them feel they are finally being heard".  

We must, as a country and as educational institutions, dedicate ourselves to continue to be guided by the grace and strength of Indigenous peoples just like the Boushie family to build a future where all experience respect and have the opportunity to succeed.

We are institutions of hope. As we work towards reconciliation with each other, we must learn from the family of Colten Boushie who have graciously helped us all move forward with hope for a better future.

A wise person once advised that our responsibility to others is “being careful and being gentle with peoples’ spirits”. There are many people in our community who will be impacted by the events as they unfold over the days, weeks and months ahead.  In our collective spirit of reconciliation please continue to engage, to learn and to understand as we support each other in our community. 

Thank you to all for your commitment to hope.


President and Vice Chancellor  

Vancouver Island University is a member of Universities Canada and supports their statement which has been shared with national Indigenous stakeholder organizations and within University communities across the country.

Canada’s universities reaffirm commitment to supporting Indigenous community


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