Temporary Closure of SELW̱ÁN SḰÁL (Elders' Voices) Program


Message from Dr. Robina Thomas, Executive Director, IACE

March 12, 2020

Out of respect and concern for the health of the Elders and based on the growing evidence that older people and those with compromised immune systems who contract COVID-19 are at greater risk for serious illness, we have made the decision to suspend Elders’ Voices programming in the First Peoples House until further notice.

This includes Elders in Residence as well as their participation in courses, events and gatherings on campus (e.g., providing territory acknowledgements and opening prayers). If you have booked an Elder through the First Peoples House and no one has not contacted you yet regarding Elders’ involvement, please contact Diane Sam, Cultural Protocol Liaison, at iacecpl@uvic.ca.

We have made this decision after considerable reflection and consultation, because of the vital role the Elders hold in the UVic community and the wider Indigenous community. We will reevalute the suspension of programming following guidelines and procedures put in place by the University of Victoria.

The Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement will continue to offer honoraria to  Elders for all of the engagements they have committed to at this time. We encourage you to also consider paying Elders for commitments they have made with your units to ensure they do not endure any financial hardships based on this decision to suspend their involvement. However, it is up to individual faculties, departments and programs to make that determination.  If you have made arrangements with an Elder who is not a member of Elders’ Voices, we recommend you consider alternative arrangements as well.

In the absence of Elders in Residence, IACE will continue to work with our partners across campus to provide cultural supports for Indigenous students. For more information about these cultural student supports, please contact the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement at (250) 853-3730 or iacereceptionist@uvic.ca. Thank you for supporting the Elders’ well-being.

Elders' Voices - Temporarily Closed

Elders are the foundation of Indigenous communities and act as the glue that keeps our people together. They are the keepers of sacred stories, songs, language, culture and traditions. Today at UVic, Elders provide the cultural and spiritual foundation for IACE and help maintain relationships between the office and UVic administration, faculty, staff and students. 

Knowledge and encouragement from Elders informs research protocol, human resources and policy development at UVic. Academic and administrative departments also frequently consult with Elders about important cultural practices. Most importantly, Elders give vital support to UVic students, staff and faculty members.

If you have questions about SELW̱ÁN SḰÁL (Elders' Voices) or would like to schedule a meeting with an Elder, please contact the . Accounting Services has developed new procedures for processing payments for Elders and community members.

Elders-in-Residence - Temporarily Closed

Elders are generally available to meet from 10:00a.m. to 2:00p.m. Monday through Friday from September through April in the Elders Lounge, FPH Room 112.