VIU Establishes a Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties & Reconciliation

March 18, 2014 - 8:30am

Vancouver Island University (VIU) has established a Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation to focus on advancing research, understanding, and public dialogue in relation to Pre-Confederation Treaties from across the country and the challenge of reconciliation. Douglas White, (Kwulasultun and Tliishin) lawyer, former Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and former member of the First Nations Summit Task Group and BC First Nations Leadership Council, has been appointed Interim Director.

Announcing the new Centre, Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor said, “This represents the continued evolution of VIU, and our leadership and dedication on matters related to First Nations. VIU is proud to be leading this new stage in education about these Treaties, which will also play a role in meeting the challenge of reconciliation. Our University is in a Territory where a Treaty was entered in 1854, a Douglas Treaty. It’s taken 160 years for a Centre to be founded focused on the study of that pre-confederation treaty and others like it – a sign of how much learning we still have to do and which this Centre can now facilitate.”

White has spent his career working for, advising, and leading First Nations and First Nations organizations and is pleased with the opening of the new Centre. “The critical project of treaty implementation and reconciliation requires a deep and shared understanding of the history of Crown-First Nation relations and a clear and shared view of what is required for reconciliation today in its fullest and proper form. I’m happy that our communities have found a strong partner in VIU for this project. This institution, my alma mater, has demonstrated real leadership towards building understanding about Treaties and also contributes significantly to reconciliation processes in the region and nationally.”

The Centre will function to provide leadership and education through advanced research, symposia, publications, and facilitation of dialogue regarding Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation.



Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications & Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6288 C: 250.618.2360 E: T: @viunews


“Reconciliation is grounded in education and learning. It requires seeing, knowing, and interacting in new, creative, and expansive ways. VIU has been at the forefront of demonstrating how institutions of higher learning should and must place an active role in advancing reconciliation. The creation of this Centre, which examines early Treaties of British Columbia and across Canada is long overdue and will be invaluable. Douglas White III brings a level of expertise, knowledge, and leadership that ensures the Centre will be a resounding success.”

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and VIU’s Chancellor

"The signatories of the Pre-Confederation Treaties are the great-grand-fathers of Confederation. Theirs was a Confederation of Nations with the British Crown unencumbered by the division of powers established in 1867 and the subsequent conflict of interest it brought to the Nation to Nation relationship with the Crown divided. We are committed to ensuring that their legacy is not forgotten and that the spirit and intent of their achievement continues to underwrite the national dialogue. It is imperative to raise understandings and knowledge of the importance of Pre-Confederation Treaties, as well as to implement them in an honourable way.”

Grand Chief Konrad Sioui, of the Huron-Wendat Nation

“Pre-Confederation Treaties are unique elements of the history of British Columbia and Canada, and they rightfully have been recognized by the Courts as different than any other Treaties across the country. Deepening our awareness of the histories, stories, and meanings of these Treaties are vital to advancing and enriching discourse and action for reconciliation everywhere.”

Louise Mandell, Q.C., leading Aboriginal and Treaty Rights lawyer

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