VIU to Host Speaker Series in Response to Truth and Reconciliation Report

Vancouver Island University has announced a landmark partnership with The Laurier Institution and CBC Radio One Ideas in response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
Vancouver Island University (VIU), in partnership with The Laurier Institution and CBC Radio One Ideas, will host an annual speakers series focused on reconciliation and engagement with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The series was announced on June 2 in Vancouver as part of an event marking the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
VIU will look to adapt a similar format to The Laurier Institution’s highly-successful Milton K. Wong and Vancouver Human Rights lecture series which is offered in partnership with the University of British Columbia and Ideas. These lectures have attracted pre-eminent speakers such as Wade Davis, John Ralston Saul, David Suzuki, Payam Akhavan, and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. The lectures are broadcast on CBC Ideas, hosted by Paul Kennedy.
“This lecture series is extremely timely, and utterly essential for the future of our country. It’s exactly what we need right now, to understand the many mistakes in our checkered past, and to pave the way for a better future,” says Kennedy.
VIU’s Indigenous Peoples Speakers Series will be held each year in Nanaimo, BC, on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw peoples. The lectures will be hosted by VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation with involvement from the Shqwi Qwal for Indigenous Dialogue. The Shqwi Qwal (or “Speaker” in the Hul’qumi’num language) is Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, past chancellor of VIU and former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
“By supporting open, thought-provoking dialogue, this speakers series demonstrates VIU’s commitment to being a leader in reconciliation encouraging Canadians and Indigenous people to build a path forward, through education, where we not only see one another, but learn to understand one another,” says Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Shqwi Qwal for Indigenous Dialogue.
This is one of several initiatives VIU is undertaking to demonstrate its commitment to and respect for Indigenous peoples in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On Monday, the J.W. McConnell Foundation announced its partnership with VIU along with several other national partners to encourage greater participation in the Canada Learning Bond Program among Aboriginal people in Canada.
“Vancouver Island University is a values-based post-secondary institution committed to access, academic excellence, engagement with and respect for all Indigenous peoples. Joining the Laurier Institution and CBC Ideas in delivering this important speakers series exemplifies these values and the importance VIU places on reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations peoples,” says Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU president and vice-chancellor.
Last week, Coast Capital Savings gifted VIU with a new Ceremonial Convocation Suite, an awe-inspiring masterpiece by world-renowned artist Arthur Vickers, to recognize the central role of Indigenous wisdom and knowledge at the University.
VIU is also a leader in providing access and financial support to Indigenous students and former youth-in-care – it was the first university in British Columbia to offer a Tuition Waiver to eligible students and currently has the most students (43).
VIU expects to announce details of the first Indigenous Peoples Speakers Series event in Fall 2015.