VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson (right) with Mabel Louie, recipients of the Perry Shawana Award from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society.

December 20, 2018 - 5:45am

By Aly Winks

For the first time in its thirteen-year history, the Perry Shawana Award from the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) was given to an institution. Vancouver Island University shared the award with long-time Aboriginal child advocate Mabel Louie.

The Perry Shawana Award goes to an individual or, in this case, institution, “who, through volunteerism, advocacy, policy-making, or research, has contributed to and advanced the notion of the need for safe, nurturing, and high quality child care and early learning services for BC’s Indigenous children.”

 VIU was chosen for, “its long history of working closely with local Aboriginal communities and agencies to provide education and services that enhance the learning experiences and opportunities for Aboriginal students in First Nation Studies, Child and Youth Care, and Early Childhood Education and Care as well as Aboriginal students attending other courses and programs across the campuses. Over the last three decades, VIU has undertaken many diverse initiatives to strengthen the presence of local First Nations culture and tradition. VIU’s efforts and approaches show a commitment to and respect of Aboriginal students, faculty, and community and a vision of high quality, inclusive educational experiences for all.

Although VIU experiences many of the same constraints as other institutions they have shown willingness to work toward creating institutional practice and policy that acknowledges their partners as equals and that actively seeks culturally appropriate, relevant, and sensitive ways to accomplish this.

The early childhood initiatives and programs offered by the institution have shown strong leadership in their local communities and beyond to build programs and develop curricula that reflect the First Nation and Aboriginal communities in the region and that respond to the particular issues and interests of the organizations with whom they work. VIU and BCACCS partnerships have shown that we can create new ways and ‘good’ ways of working together that benefit students and early childhood practitioners, ultimately supporting Aboriginal early childhood practice that benefits the children and families of our communities.”

VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson collected the award on behalf of VIU. He was honoured to receive the award alongside Ms. Louie who has been a tireless advocate for family and education rights for Indigenous peoples. She has two hereditary names and is from the Frog Clan. She is also one of the founding members of the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society.


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