Etalew̓txʷ | ÁTOL ÁUTW̱ | Office of the Vice-President Indigenous officially launched

- Hannah Mashon

Indigenous artist, Qwul'thilum, Dylan Thomas is wrapped in a blanket to be honoured during a blanketing ceremony in the First Peoples House.
Qwul'thilum, Dylan Thomas being honoured in a blanketing ceremony in the First Peoples House. Credit: Abbey Hall

On Oct. 25, Indigenous students, staff, faculty and community gathered in the First Peoples House following Coast Salish protocol to honour and recognize both J,SIṈTEN and Qwul'thilum for their contributions to the name and logo for the new Office of the Vice-President Indigenous (OVPI).

UVic sought the guidance of J,SIṈTEN, Dr. John Elliott and Seniemten, Dr. Elmer George throughout the development of the OVPI portfolio. The SENĆOŦEN word ÁTOL ÁUTW̱ provided by J,SIṈTEN, and the Lək̓ʷəŋən translation Etalew̓txʷ provided by Seniemten, have been shared with us as a reflection of our commitment to aligning the university with the teachings of these territories. Translated into English, these words mean “Centre of respect for the rights of one another and all beings.”

The logo chosen to represent the office was designed by Qwul'thilum, Dylan Thomas of Lyackson First Nation with ties to Songhees Nation. Qwul'thilum’s design was one of many submissions from local artists that were carefully reviewed during the call for artists last April. In this design, Qwul’thilum has represented the concept of Etalew̓txʷ | ÁTOL ÁUTW̱ with the image of salmon (water), eagle (air), human (land) and an ancestor moon (spirit world). The design is intended to respect and honour all beings that inhabit the world.

Gifting Dylan Thomas

Lalita handing Qwul'thilum, Dylan Thomas a framed print of his artwork. Credit: Abbey Hall

To coincide with the launch, the OVPI and the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement (IACE) are thrilled to announce the completion of the new OVPI website. This user-friendly site serves as a central hub for information related to Indigenous initiatives, events and resources at the university, including the recent release of Xʷkʷənəŋ istəl | W̱ȻENEṈISTEL | Helping to move each other forward: UVic's Indigenous Plan 2023. Visitors can access this invaluable resource easily, providing a one-stop destination for students, faculty, staff and the broader community to engage with Indigenous language, culture and knowledge. This launch emphasizes the university's commitment to an inclusive and diverse learning environment and represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to strengthen Indigenous engagement on campus. We believe this website will play a pivotal role in advancing our mission of promoting Indigenous perspectives and fostering meaningful connections within the university community.

This launch holds immense significance in terms of positioning the OVPI and celebrating the important role this office plays in providing guidance and oversight of UVic's Indigenous portfolio, which encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities. These include the administration of student support services and programming, the formulation of policies, the initiation of Indigenous projects, the development of policies and frameworks and the implementation of the Indigenous Plan. Rooted in the teaching ʔetal nəwəl | ÁTOL,NEUEL | Showing respect for the rights of one another and all things, and honouring the laws and protocols of the local Nations, the OVPI works closely with local Indigenous communities, including the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ Nations; the leadership of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous organizations; Elders and Knowledge Keepers; and Indigenous faculty, staff and student representatives.


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Keywords: community, Indigenous, administrative, student life, arts, language, staff

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