Tomorrow, September 30th, is National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. The intention of the day is to recognize the ongoing harm caused by the colonial system to Indigenous communities, and to honour those lost to its violence. We recognize that the UVSS, as all colonial institutions are, is an imposition to the land of the Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees and Esquimalt) and WSÁNEĆ Peoples which we currently reside on.
It has been seven years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission put forward its recommendations to the government of Canada. Of these 94 recommendations, only 11 have been implemented. We need to see the calls for change made by Indigenous peoples to be responded to and genuinely heard across our society and government.
This issue cannot be something settlers only attend to annually, but an ongoing process of demanding justice, and equity for Indigenous peoples.
As a Student Union, we see this day specifically through the lens of working in an academic setting. While this university has been a place of community and learning to many, we must recognize the colonial history of education. The first industrial schools in Canada were residential schools — what it means to learn and to teach in this country is rooted in the colonial project.
As we stand on this campus we must be aware of the contradiction between seeking truth, reconciliation, and decolonization and the fact that post-secondary education often stands as the antithesis of that. In this moment of reflection, we must keep in mind how we learn, who we learn from, and what we learn about: these questions will help expose how our education centres a colonial worldview, and devalues Indigenous knowledge. When learning has been constructed and defined by colonial standards it ignores the ancestral teachings that have been passed on for generations and what ties people to community and the land. Learning does not happen in 13-week cycles, learning is not simply reading from a textbook, or passing an exam. Learning is a process that takes commitment — to learn something is to be changed by it. We must consider what the decolonization of education looks like, and to do this we must look to Indigenous voices. The role of settlers must be to listen if we are to genuinely decolonize our education and Indigenous land.
We are not asking you to stop learning, but rather, to seek teachers outside of the classroom. The classroom has historically excluded Indigenous folks — those that know this corner of the world best — and in doing so, it has allowed us to forget our responsibility to, and respect for, this land.
Today, tomorrow, and all days, we encourage settlers to reflect on how we show up on this land and we use our privilege to advocate for truth, reconciliation, and decolonization.
For Indigenous students, staff, and community members this day goes far beyond the learning that settlers have to catch up with. This day is often heavy, angering, and retraumatizing. The injustice of having to carry that weight everyday cannot be understated. If you are needing support at this time or in the future, we encourage you to explore the resources listed on this page.
If you wish to seek out leadership from the local nations, please see the list of links below.
W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council: https://wsanec.com/
There is a palpable heaviness that can be felt across UVic in the wake of the announcement for the planned anti-trans, anti-queer marches that are taking place all across the nation today.
The prevalence of trans-antagonistic far-right scapegoating has markedly increased the past few years. For hundreds of years in our postcolonial country, queer folks have been used as a vessel to deflect anger about systemic and societal failures.
The rhetoric of “protecting children” from queer and trans identity has plagued discussions on the place of queerness in society. Time and time again we see anti-2SLGBTQ+ legislation and violence justified in this way. This discourse is used to oppose inclusive sex education and queer representation in schools, or to institute trans-antagonistic policies in education. Both of these outcomes are associated with a marked increase in suicide rates for trans and queer youth. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand the real goal of the protest not as protecting children, but rather instituting anti-queer policies.
Queer adults were once queer children. Increased sex and gender education results in better outcomes for children. Protests against “gender ideology” in our schools show an ongoing opposition to trans and queer existence. In light of these protests, we stand united in wanting better for the queer kids who are going to school now, and into the future.
- Protecting children is implementing inclusive Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curricula in the education system.
- Protecting children is defending the most vulnerable children, and educating them and their peers about the identities they are coming into.
- Protecting children is not marching against their right to be who they are.
In the face of hate and intolerance we want to thank those who support queer and trans youth. Educators across this country receive our deepest gratitude for supporting queer kids through their time in school.
We call upon allies to show up and fiercely protect the queer and trans community today and every day. To remember that queer existence continues to be contested and that we must rally together in defense of it. To stand by us when it is hard and when it is scary, because it matters far more than when it is convenient. It takes a backbone to be queer. It takes a backbone to support queer people all the time – not just a one off during June. We must not back down on the ground we have gained!!
We once again call upon the UVic administration to take swift action on campus to implement mandatory Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion curricula in all faculties as a preventative measure to stop far-right radicalization and trans-antagonism on campus.
To the trans and queer students on campus right now who are scared and hurt, take care of yourselves and take care of each other.
In solidarity and in rage,
UVSS Executive Team
Pride Collective @uvicpridecollective (room B010 in the SUB)
The Gender Empowerment Centre (room B107 in the SUB)
The Anti-Violence Project (room B027 in the SUB)
UVSS Enhanced Student Health and Dental Plan with new Gender Affirming Care Coverage (room A102 in the SUB)
UVSS Enhanced Student Health and Dental Plan with new Conversation Uncapped Mental Health Coverage
*Content warning for queer, trans, and gender-based violence*
Our hearts are with everyone affected by the violent and hateful act recently performed at the University of Waterloo. The UVSS condemns this incident in the strongest terms and recognizes that it highlights a concerning rise in anti-queer, anti-trans, and misogynistic hate and the normalization of it in our culture. We also recognize that this brutality being committed during pride month is no coincidence.
It is integral that university communities everywhere use this time to reflect inwardly about intolerance exhibited on our own campuses and what must be done in order to promote education and acceptance.
We call on the University of Victoria, as well as other post-secondary institutions, to provide proactive solutions to combat hate and promote tolerance on campus. This includes mandatory EDI training within the curricula of all faculties, with particular attention provided to faculties with inequitable gender representation in their enrolment.
Idleness is complacency in the fight against hate. Words of support are nothing without action. Let this use our outrage to mobilize us into tangible action, to ensure this never happens again. Caring for each other cannot be an empty promise.
Safety is something we achieve together. We implore you to lead with curiosity and love at this time and always.
Your UVSS Board of Directors Executive Team
June 21st is a day to celebrate the diverse communities of Indigenous, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples across Turtle Island. It is a day to recognize, reflect and uplift the resistance of Indigenous peoples that continue to this day against ongoing settler colonialism. Settler colonialism is an ongoing system of power that perpetuates genocide, racism, and land dispossession for the purpose of foreigner settlers to inhabit land.
As student leaders we are committed to analyzing our unique positionality within settler colonialism so our decolonization efforts are not an empty signifier of change. We want to lead with integrity this board year and show through equitable action, and guidance from the Lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose unceded and unsurrendered territories the UVSS operates on. We Understand it is our responsibility to further our ongoing commitment to decolonization and Indigenous self-determination. Decolonization and social justice are key UVSS values, which are at the forefront of our work.
We ask all students, staff and community members who use our services to critically think about their own positionality and involvement. We hope that you take this reflection to heart and allow it to flow through you and into your everyday interactions in your personal, academic, and professional lives.
Here is a list of resources that can help guide your self-reflection and broaden your understanding of the relationship we as settlers have to colonization:
Interactive map resources:
- Native-land.ca – to find out more about whose territories you live on
- First Peoples’ Map of BC – which showcases the language, arts, culture, territory and more of different First Nations
- Do you live near a residential school? – CBC interactive map
- Beyond territorial acknowledgments
- Decolonization is Not a Metaphor [PDF] by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
- Settler Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada by Emma Battell Lowman and Adam J. Barker
- “As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance” by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
- “Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration” edited by Robert Alexander Innes, Kim Anderson
- “A recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood” by Kim Anderson
- “Whose Land is it Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization” – Widely available Audiobook (Allows for more accessibility!) Full list of authors on this site if necessary: https://fpse.ca/decolonization_manual_whose_land_is_it_anyway
- All My Relations Podcast
- Métis in Space
- Media Indigena
- Stories from the Land
- The Secret Life of Canada
Your UVSS Board of Directors
*Content warning* This statement contains mentions of homophobia, transphobia, and queer trauma.
Happy Pride Month, UVic!
June is a time to celebrate the queer community while reflecting on our past and imagining our future. For those not a part of the community, it can be easy to look at the rainbow-coloured advertisements and parade floats and not think much of it.
It’s important to contextualize the radical root of our collective struggle, a struggle that continues to this day. Pride was started by a group of misfits, groups of people who had been outcasted by mainstream society, who took it upon themselves to create communities that dreamed of a better world, one of liberation, where queer and trans people could love and exist freely.
In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a prominent gay bar in New York City. The trans and queer patrons of the bar, in a stunning display of courage, fought back — defending the ground they had won. Such police raids were commonplace at the time; expressions of homosexuality were persecuted, pushing queer folk to the margins. This blaze was ignited and carried by some of the most marginalized within the community, specifically Black and Brown trans women and butch/gender non-comforming lesbians. Stonewall was a riot, a defence of queer spaces, and a watershed moment in the struggle of the 1960s. It is from this riot that pride first came to be.
Similar instances of severe police brutality and mistreatment were and are still routine in Canada. This spans from the police raid in Toronto, ON coined Operation Soap in 1981, to the neglect of the victims involved in the hateful attacks at the Pride Parade hosted in Hamilton, ON in 2019.
The push and pull of our struggle are what marks the queer community, seeming one step forward and then two steps back. In Canada, homosexuality was first partially decriminalized in 1969. But following that, in the 80s and 90s, the AIDS pandemic was allowed to spread without a care by world leaders, as it was considered a “gay disease”. Today, gay marriage is legally recognized in 34 countries. Our struggles have undoubtedly led to victories, and institutional support has improved. Yet queer rights are also undergoing increasingly threatening attacks. We need only look south of the border to see that bigotry towards queer people is still harming our community. It would be naive to pretend that hate cannot take hold — we can see it in the platforms of political parties in Canada today.
We should take care to remember the colonial history of these forms of oppression. Gender and relationality are understood differently across the world, and nonbinary genders, third genders, and Two-Spirit people are not only accepted but also considered to be sacred. In many postcolonial countries the criminalization of homosexuality and the imposition of a gender binary is directly tied to colonial law. Queerness is a modern construct, defined against the “normal” — cisgender and heterosexual identities imposed by colonial institutions.
Queer rights continue to be contested, and pride is an important part of reasserting the ground we have won and a commitment to the work that is yet to come. We hope we can celebrate the lives and loves of queer folks, and continue to build and defend queer spaces. Bask in the glory of queer joy and love, care for the community around you, and always remember the power of togetherness.
From all of us at the UVSS, we wish you a happy pride month!
Dear University of Victoria Students,
As a student union, we have always firmly defended the rights of students to be free from harassment and discrimination on our campus. We are making a statement in light of the acts of harassment directed towards the Ukrainian Students Society during UVSS Clubs and Course Union days. These acts of harassment are unacceptable and we condemn it in the strongest terms. This statement of support is overdue, and we apologise for that.
The UVIC Students’ Society condemns the acts of hate being perpetrated against Ukrainian students on campus. These acts of violence were influenced by the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, which we also condemn. We stand in solidarity with Ukrainian students, many of whom have been affected more severely by this war than most of us can fathom.
Harassing students on a university campus over events that have displaced them, their friends, and/or their relatives is absolutely unacceptable. Hateful beliefs and behaviours do not, and have never had a place on our campus. All students deserve a safe, respectful campus to learn, work and play on. We are better than making each other’s lives harder in hard times. We urge you to be kind. If you are in need of support, please reach out to us.
Your Board of Directors
On Campus Resources
Peer Support Centre
A safer space created to be an inclusive and comfortable space for students from all walks of
life.Whether you are struggling with or have questions regarding mental health, are concerned
for a friend, or need help accessing resources on or off campus, you can seek a
first-point-of-contact at the Peer Support Centre.
Our trained student volunteers are here to listen, offering non-judgmental, empathetic and
confidential support while helping fellow students navigate next-step resources and student
life at UVic.
Our support services are completely non-judgmental and confidential, and available to
anyone who has experienced violence, anyone who has caused harm, and anyone who has
supported someone who has experienced violence or caused harm.
We can provide you with emotional support, information about services on and off campus,
and help in connecting with the services that might be right for you. We have a team of
trained volunteers who provide peer support as well as staff members. To learn more about
AVP peer support, click here.
International Centre for Students
At the International Centre for Students you have access to International Advisors and a
place to connect with friends and find support during this difficult time.
Student Wellness Centre
The Student Wellness Centre provides holistic care, for students’ well-being emotionally,
physically and spiritually. You don’t need to be in Victoria to access care. Contact the centre
for virtual and in-person appointments with counsellors, doctors, nurses, spiritual care
providers and more.
SupportConnect is a free, confidential mental health support for UVic students, available 24
Phone (North America): +1-844-773-1427
Phone (International): +1-250-999-7621
Students, staff and faculty travelling internationally on UVic-sanctioned activities are
encouraged to register with International SOS, which provides travel safety information,
international healthcare, medical assistance, and security services abroad 24 hours a day,
365 days a year.
Employee and Family Support
UVic staff and faculty can find support through our Employee and Family Assistance Program
including advice, private counselling, information referral services.
Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees (VICCIR)
Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees (VICCIR) provides mental
health counselling to immigrants and refugees living on Vancouver Island. They specialize in
trauma informed therapy and offer counselling services on a sliding scale.
Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre
Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre provides a wide range of supports for immigrants,
refugees and new Canadian citizens.
Here2Talk is the provincial mental health support line for post-secondary students. Through
this resource all B.C. post-secondary students – domestic or international have access to
free, confidential counselling and community referral services, conveniently available 24
hours/7 days a week, via app, phone and web.
Dear UVSS Members,
At the November 14th board meeting, the UVSS Board of Directors voted to dissolve UVIC Pride and hold their funding in trust, after requesting the resignation of the Pride Representative. This decision was made for the following reasons:
- A General Meeting had not been held in over a year and six months; General Meetings must be held at least annually. No plans to hold an AGM had been given by Pride staff despite repeated requests from Board members and Excluded Management, and their Representative reported to the Executive Committee that there were no immediate plans to hold one.
- There was no democratically elected executive nor an open collective consensus making process;
- Open and advertised collective meetings were not being held regularly;
Upon receiving the letter announcing the motion, Pride staff announced an AGM shortly afterwards, which was abruptly postponed. We understand the student disappointment and confusion from this sudden change, and apologize for this miscommunication. UVIC Pride has since made a statement, which is available for student viewing here.
As your Board of Directors, we have a responsibility to ensure your student fees are directed in ways that are conducive with student values and that support all demographics of UVIC students. This is a moral and legal obligation that we carry as your Board of Directors. UVIC Pride and the UVSS are committed to making the changes necessary to continue building queer community, leadership, and advocacy on campus. We are excited for the future student-led advocacy group that provides safe spaces for all queer and 2SLGBTQIA+ students.
The UVSS has been queer-led for a number of years and is committed to ensuring there is an advocacy group that represents 2SLGBTQIA+ students. During the last week of January, we will be holding a Pride Annual General Meeting (hybrid) to establish a new Constitution and collective for UVIC Pride, elect student leaders, and get our gay agendas organized and put into action. In order to ensure we best accommodate student schedules, please indicate your availability for a Pride AGM here, along with feedback for the draft Constitution. If you are a queer, 2SLGBTQIA+, or ally student who wants to learn more about getting involved, please reach out to the Directors of Campaigns and Community Relations, Finance and Operations, and Student Affairs in the UVSS Board offices or through our e-mails which can be found at uvss.ca.
We look forward to continuing to serve, and support you.