VIU hosts summer camp for Indigenous students

From left to right: Hayden Kenneth Taylor, Sheldon Scow and Talela Manson are hard at work planning a fun-filled summer camp experience for students.

From left to right: Hayden Kenneth Taylor, Sheldon Scow and Talela Manson are hard at work planning a fun-filled summer camp experience for students.

July 6, 2023 - 9:30am

The camp is organized by the ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins Indigenous student mentorship program.

Making Indigenous youth feel like they belong at university is the goal of a seven-day summer camp taking place at Vancouver Island University (VIU) this August.

The Thuy’she’num Tu Smun’eem: Building a Foundation for our Youth summer camp takes place August 6 to 12 at the Nanaimo campus. The camp is free for youth to take part in, thanks to the generosity of The Peter Cundill Foundation. The foundation has given VIU a grant to run the program for the past seven years.

“The biggest thing about this camp is to get Indigenous youth thinking about post-secondary. A lot of us feel like we don’t belong,” said Sheldon Scow, program coordinator with the Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement. “We want to show them that at VIU, you get to walk in both worlds. You can get an education and still keep your cultural identity, you don’t have to give up one for other.”

Youth stay in VIU Residences and camp activities include cultural teachings, storytelling, traditional crafts and outdoor activities that promote a connection with nature. Everything is organized and coordinated by VIU’s ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins Indigenous student mentorship program.

Hayden Kenneth Taylor, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership student and one of the camp counsellors, said the camp creates a strong sense of identity and cultural pride among the participants.

“We also show them how many resources there are to support them here,” he added. 

Talela Manson, another camp counsellor who just finished their second year of Exploratory Studies at VIU, was a camp participant in high school. They came to VIU because of the supports the Community Cousins program offers.

“I had no idea what I was going to do when I got here, I just knew I wanted to be here with the Cousins,” they said. “This program has inspired me and made me the person I am today. If I can do that for just one other person, then I feel like I am doing my job as a Cousin.”

Established in 2012, The Peter Cundill Foundation honours the legacy of renowned Canadian investment fund manager and philanthropist Peter Cundill and has an emphasis on improving the lives of children and young people.

For more information and to apply, email


Media Contact:

Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Manager, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

The VIU community acknowledges and thanks the Snuneymuxw, Quw’utsun, Tla’amin, Snaw-naw-as and Qualicum First Nation on whose traditional lands we teach, learn, research, live and share knowledge.

Tags: Community Cousins | Indigenous | Announcements

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