Victoria – The University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) Board of Directors recently passed a motion standing in solidarity with survivors of the residential school system and those living with the intergenerational effects of colonial violence and systemic racism. The motion supports all 94 recommendations made by the TRC and urges all levels of government, as well as the University of Victoria, to work toward their implementation.
“The TRC calls on governments to prioritize Indigenous education as a strategy toward a more equitable society, yet all levels of Indigenous education remain woefully underfunded” said UVSS Director of External Relations Kenya Rogers. “At least 7 of the TRC recommendations deal with education and it is shocking that Premier Clark’s mandate letter to Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation – made public this week – completely ignores the TRC, while her letter to the Honourable Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education, had absolutely no mention of Indigenous education.”
The UVSS and the NSU would like to recognize that reconciliation discourse is in itself problematic, as it cannot be understood as an event, but rather as an on-going process. The TRC is an opportunity for Settler-Indigenous relationships to be re-imagined, and acts as a stepping-stone towards breaking down current systems of colonialism, which perpetuate violence. The UVSS and NSU also recognize that this violence renders spaces and institutions such as the University of Victoria unsafe for Indigenous students.
Meanwhile, only weeks after the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the injustice that was the residential school system, Premier Christy Clark blatantly ignored the recommendations and made no reference to the commission in her annual mandate letter to the Honourable John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. The annual letters were made public and updated as of June 22, 2015 and not a single one references the TRC.
“Although the BC Liberals contributed platitudes immediately after the TRC report, totally leaving it out of the annual mandate letter to the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation shows a lack of sincerity and commitment to building a nation to nation relationship based on mutual respect,” said NSU Coordinator Cole Sayers. “The BC government was complicit in policies that actively caused cultural genocide and intergenerational harm to Indigenous Peoples. The effects of these policies are pervasive today and Premier Clack cannot simply pass over the implementation of the TRC recommendations as a federal jurisdiction.”
2015 ministerial mandate letters can be found here:
The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) was established in 1964 and represents the 17,000 undergraduate students at the University of Victoria. The NSU and UVSS would like to recognize that the University of Victoria is built on the unceded unsurrendered territories of the Lekwungen and WSANEC Peoples and its presence on this land is in itself an act of violence.
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UVSS Director of External Relations – email@example.com
NSU Office Coordinator – firstname.lastname@example.org