June 24, 2019 - 10:15am
In recognition of the longstanding relationship Vancouver Island University (VIU) has with two of its Indigenous partners – Snuneymuxw First Nation and Métis Nation – flags for each of these Nations were raised at the Nanaimo Campus on National Indigenous Peoples Day (Friday, June 21, 2019).
The Snuneymuxw and Métis flags joined the national, provincial and VIU flags already flying in the Royal Bank Plaza in the heart of campus, symbolizing VIU’s ongoing commitment to nurturing and maintaining these relationships. Snuneymuxw First Nation Councillors Doug White III and Emmy Manson, and Tim Low, Vice-President of the Mid Island Métis Nation, presented flags for their respective Nations to VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson to be raised.
“Every day going forward, students, employees and community members will see these flags and be inspired,” said Nilson. “I know there’s going to be all kinds of opportunities to continue to learn, grow and take responsibility together. VIU looks forward to all of those conversations.”
White, who was joined at the event by his father, Councillor Doug White II, and his mother, Joyce White, said the decision to share the Snuneymuxw flag with VIU was not done lightly.
“It’s a beautiful thing to be asked to share in this way, it means so much to us as a people,” he said. “This flag is being shared because we know this university accepts our children and cares for their well-being. It’s happening because of the important work that’s taking place here. The education system is a place of incredible power in terms of shaping what this country is. VIU is demonstrating the kinds of things that can be done now to get on the path of where this country needs to be.”
Manson said she hopes the flag will inspire VIU students to research whose lands they are studying on, leading to increased awareness.
“I’m hoping this is opening the door to more work we can do together,” added Manson, who on top of her duties as a Snuneymuxw Councillor is also an Indigenous Education Navigator at VIU.
Low said having the Métis flag flying alongside the Snuneymuxw flag at VIU symbolizes the importance of the educational opportunities VIU is providing for his people.
“It acknowledges that spirit of reconciliation that we talk about and that we’re all working really hard at,” he said. “The education system has not always been kind to us. It’s a sad history that we’ve got in this country, but by working together, and getting to know each other and loving each other, we have a much better opportunity to truly understand each other.”
VIU’s Cowichan Campus also recently raised the Cowichan Tribes and Métis Nation flags.
Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University