June is National Indigenous History Month, and today is National Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Today, the UVSS Board recognizes the beauty, strength and knowledge of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island. We especially recognize the W̲SÁNEĆ and Lək̓ʷəŋən peoples of whose lands we do our work and our learning on. If you are on or near the University of Victoria campus, we urge you to check out the Native Students Union (IG: @uvicnsu) and review their story highlights and Territory Acknowledgment, which includes pronunciation of  W̲SÁNEĆ and Lək̓ʷəŋən. 

As a non-profit, social justice based organization, we acknowledge our responsibility to align our work, and our actions as UVic students, with the values of decolonization and Indigenous self-determination. As students we are working towards creating a healthier future for us all, and that can only happen once justice has been achieved.  We recognize that learning our history on these lands – both individually and collectively – is an important first step.

Recently, we have been devastated by the confirmation of the unmarked and undocumented burials of 215 children at the former Kamloops Residential School, and the tragic reality that similar graves exist at residential school sites all across so-called Canada. We bear witness to these events and we stand with the Survivors. We recognize the intergenerational trauma caused by not only residential schools but other ongoing genocidal policies in Canada that work to displace Indigenous peoples from their lands and waters.

On July 1st, we will not celebrate Canada day. Instead, we will be reading up on the history of the lands we are on, we will be digging deeper into the true meaning of decolonization and will be reflecting on our positionality on these lands that have been, and are still, being stolen from  the W̲SÁNEĆ and Lək̓ʷəŋən peoples. We invite you to join us. 

The picture in this post features two traditional freestanding cedar welcome figures that line the main entrance to the First Peoples House at UVic (IG: @uviciace), by Coast Salish artist Doug Lafortune. The figure on the right represents a traditional Coast Salish man with a boy, and the figure on the left displays a traditional Coast Salish woman and child.


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