VIU hosts summer camps for Indigenous students

Three people standing in front of a VIU residence building

Hayden Taylor, Sheldon Scow and Talela Manson are excited to welcome high school students back to VIU’s Nanaimo campus for the sixth year for the Thuy’she’num Tu Smun’eem: Building a Foundation for our Youth summer camps.

June 29, 2022 - 2:15pm

The camps are organized by the ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins Indigenous mentorship program.

A pair of free summer camps that aim to make the transition to university easier for Indigenous youth are returning to in-person delivery at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Nanaimo campus this summer.

The Thuy’she’num Tu Smun’eem: Building a Foundation for our Youth summer camps take place July 18-22 (for Grades 7-9 students) and August 8-12 (for Grades 10-12 students) on campus, with students staying overnight at VIU Residences for five days.

“We are grateful that we were able to switch to an online and then a blended (online and in-person) format for the past two years, but now that restrictions have eased, we are very excited to bring the youth back to campus,” says Hayden Taylor, a camp coordinator and recent graduate of VIU’s Bachelor of Education program, who also helped organize the camps last year. “The idea is to slowly get students out of their comfort zones and get them making those connections outside of their communities.”

Daytime activities include campus tours, financial literacy workshops, public speaking workshops, cultural activities with VIU Elders-in-Residence, drum circles and even a boxing session. Camp coordinators and participants will practice nightly thuy thuts (check-ins) together to ensure everyone has a moment to practice gratitude and share their thoughts and feelings, and students will experience what it’s like to stay on campus in dorms.

The magic of the camps is in the storytelling, says Talela Manson, another camp coordinator who just finished their first year of Exploratory Studies at VIU. Manson has also been a participant in the Thuy’she’num Tu Smun’eem camps.

“I think the camps were an opportunity to meet mentors and inspired me to come to VIU, to go to post-secondary,” they say. “For a while, I didn’t know if it was something I wanted to do and how I was going to do that. I got to meet a lot of people who were in my place and could share their experiences. It made me feel less alone and like I had a place to go after high school.”

The camps have taken place at VIU since 2017 thanks to the generosity of The Peter Cundill Foundation, which has given VIU a grant to run the program for the past six years. Established in 2012, the 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

Tags: Community Engagement | Indigenous | VIU Foundation | Announcements

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