Shuswap Elder and UBCO Community Research Liaison Jessie Nyberg signs as a witness to the declaration of Truth and Reconciliation commitments at a special ceremony Tuesday. (Contributed)

UBCO commits to better representation for Syilx nation

‘UBC is taking an important step,’ said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

UBC Okanagan has committed to properly representing the Syilx Okanagan Nation on campus.

On Tuesday, community members from the Syilx Okanagan Nation joined students, faculty and staff at the UBC Okanagan campus to witness the historic signing of UBCO’s commitments to action toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

As part of the University of British Columbia’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, the UBC Okanagan has declared action on five recommendations developed by its Aboriginal Advisory Committee.

The actions include:

  • Development of an Indigenous culture orientation program for all faculty and staff
  • Establishing a senior advisor on Indigenous affairs for the Okanagan campus
  • Developing activities that support the revitalization of Indigenous language fluency
  • Advancing Indigenous teaching and research
  • Expanding health and wellness services to better support Aboriginal students

“In making this commitment to the Calls to Action, UBC is taking an important step,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

“Indian residential schools were purposely designed to ‘take the Indian out of the child’ by destroying indigenous languages, cultures and connections to our land.”

READ MORE: Kelowna schools won’t voluntarily excuse students attending climate change rallies

Phillip believes the time to act is now and that UBC’s initiative will strengthen the collaborative relationship between the university and the Syilx Okanagan Nation.

“They (the actions) will make meaningful contributions to supporting Syilx students and scholars, increase intercultural understanding, and over time, they will enrich the future for us all.”

In 2005, UBC built the Okanagan Campus in Syilx Okanagan territory in partnership with Sylix Okanagan Chiefs. The development sparked a new relationship with the indigenous people of the region and furthered the university’s commitment to indigenous partnerships.

“Since the beginning of the campus, UBC has enjoyed the support, friendship and warmth of the Syilx people and communities,” said Deborah Buszard, UBC deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC Okanagan.

“Going forward we recommit to working towards reconciliation and better serving the Syilx community. I am personally deeply grateful to be a part of this unique partnership and place.”

For more information about the declaration and commitments visit the UBC Okanagan website.


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