Rebecca Beauchamp is Pearson College’s director of Indigenous Initiatives and Engagement, a new role developed to guide the implementation of the college’s reconciliation action plan. Beauchamp is Māori from Aotearoa, New Zealand, and moves to Pearson from the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, where she ran the childcare centre for six years.
This role is somewhat groundbreaking on the Island. Is this something that could be adopted at other institutions?
This reconciliation action plan is very specific to Pearson College. It speaks of the relationship that we have to the land; it speaks to local nations; it speaks to the many voices of those that are from here. It was written by many voices.
There were students, elders, Indigenous communities, Scia’new, faculty, staff. It was a collective whole that created this beautiful action plan. It took many years and a careful thought process to incorporate many different Indigenous cultures into this plan, and I am honoured to be implementing it.
What is your vision for this role?
My vision for this role is a woven basket that is made up of many different strands. I think community-driven thought is really crucial. When we keep all the faculty and staff really grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being [it is] because these values have so much depth to them.
Really unpacking the destruction that colonization has had upon the education system and creating avenues for Indigenization through curriculum and staff/faculty training will be woven into this role.
With Pearson College being an international campus, how does that affect the approach you take?
An Indigenous approach is about inclusivity and understanding, acknowledging that each student is coming from their own culture, their own identity and bringing with them their own stories.
A lot of what’s guiding my work with the college is holding students accountable to self-location and really unpacking that. That creates a platform for them to then project themselves into the world.
What is your hope for the future?
For me, what I’d want the next five years to look like would be building such strong relationships with local nations that it’s completely intertwined. Supporting the staff, faculty and student body to understand their responsibility in reconciliation. Transforming our current Pearson College into an Indigenous-led, experiential learning space that is guided by elders and knowledge keepers from across Canada.
There is much work to do; however, if everyone is leading with their heart and mind, positive change will happen. Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua — I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on the past.