UVic’s future shaped by Indigenous communities

Closeup of The ‘Highly Respected One's, Peace of Mind at Last’ Coast Salish Woven Blanket.
UVic's Indigenous plan drew significant inspiration from the warp and weft of weaving, particularly The ‘Highly Respected One's, Peace of Mind at Last’ Coast Salish Woven Blanket. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Unlearning colonial ways is a journey with many steps. For the University of Victoria, those next steps are grounded in language and ancestral teachings—guided by Indigenous communities—to ensure the work is done in a good way.

Today, UVic launches Xʷkʷənəŋ istəl | W̱ȻENEṈISTEL | Helping to move each other forward: UVic’s Indigenous Plan. With local Indigenous teachings and Lək̓ʷəŋən and SENĆOŦEN language woven throughout, this new plan proposes a fundamental rethinking of the institution’s approach to learning and work.

Changes are happening in our time. When a pebble is thrown into water, we see its ripples grow into waves. It used to be that kids were dragged to school—now they’re running ahead of their parents to get to school. Their teachers did something to excite them about knowledge, awakening a feeling of initiative and excitement to learn, and it’s spreading. Walls are coming down between students and administration here, where we are energized by belonging here.

–Songhees Elder Dr. Skip Dick wrote in his words of welcome.

Working in consultation with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, students, staff, faculty and community members, Xʷkʷənəŋ istəl | W̱ȻENEṈISTEL | Helping to move each other forward was shaped in tandem with Distinctly UVic, the institution’s new strategic plan. Both envision a future where ways of knowing, being and learning are embedded into UVic’s programs, systems and organizational structure. Local Indigenous languages and teachings are used instead of settler terminology as the foundation of these plans.

Qwul’sih’yah’maht, Robina Thomas, vice-president Indigenous, outside UVic's newest buildings.

Qwul’sih’yah’maht, Robina Thomas, vice-president Indigenous. Credt: UVic Photo Services

Many have commented about the unique process UVic undertook to develop these plans, which weave local Indigenous teachings to guide the university’s future. I hold my hands up to all those who contributed to the development of Xʷkʷənəŋ istəl | W̱ȻENEṈISTEL | Helping to move each other forward.

–Qwul’sih’yah’maht, Robina Thomas, UVic vice-president Indigenous

Central to the plan are Sk̓ʷeʔs | TŦE SḴÁLS I, TŦE Ś X̱ENÁṈS | the Laws and Philosophies:

  • Héʔəkʷ ʔə cə čəléŋən ɫtə | HÁEQ TE OL TŦE ĆELÁ EN TE | Remember our ancestors and birthright ​
  • Nəc̓ əmaat kʷəns čeʔi | ĆȺNEUEL OL | Work together ​
  • Nəw̓ es šxʷ cən ʔay̓ šqʷeləqʷən | ÁMEḴT TŦEN ÍY, ŚḰÁLEȻEN | Bring in your good heart and mind ​
  • Leʔt šxʷ helə ʔə cə mak̓ʷ sčeʔi səʔ | S,HOI EI MEQ EN ENA SE SĆȺ | Be prepared for the work to come

The SENĆOŦEN name of the Indigenous Plan was shared by J,SIṈTEN, Dr. John Elliott (Tsartlip First Nation) and translated into Lək̓ʷəŋən by Seniemten, Dr. Elmer George (Songhees Nation). For pronunciations, visit www.uvic.ca/ovpi/language.

The plan reinforces UVic’s commitment to implement responsibilities and calls to action from all levels of government in support of the rights and sovereignties of Indigenous Peoples, including the BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA Act).

“UVic has a responsibility to recognize and respond to the historical and present-day colonial realities that shape our relationships with the local Nations and their laws, lands and waters,” said Kevin Hall, president of the University of Victoria. “We have pledged to hold ourselves accountable to ʔetal nəwəl | ÁTOL,NEUEL by respecting the rights of one another, being in right relationship with all things, and by upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Download Xʷkʷənəŋ istəl | W̱ȻENEṈISTEL | Helping to move each other forward: UVic’s Indigenous Plan online or explore the work UVic is doing in a good way at www.uvic.ca/worktogether.

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A media kit containing high resolution photos is available on Dropbox



Media contacts

Hannah Mashon (Office of the Vice-President Indigenous) at iaceco@uvic.ca

Kirsten Lauvaas (University Communications and Marketing) at 250-213-5572 or uvicnews@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: community, Indigenous, diversity, human rights, reconciliation, administrative, staff and faculty

People: Qwul’sih’yah’maht, Robina Thomas, Kevin Hall, Dr. Skip Dick

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