Vancouver Island University (VIU) has worked hard to demonstrate respect for the founding peoples of our region, and seeks to lead a national conversation that will promote reconciliation among cultures in a way that recognizes their special position as the first inhabitants of the land. On November 26, 2015 VIU joins with the Laurier Institution and CBC Radio to host the first in an annual series of lectures on indigenous peoples.
The inaugural speaker will be former AFN National Chief Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo, who served as VIU’s first Chancellor and last year was appointed by BC Premier Christy Clark as Canada’s first Shqwi qwal (Speaker) for indigenous dialogue. In future years we expect to present compelling speakers of similar stature, with deeply informed and thoughtful commentary on issues of national importance relating to the struggles, triumphs and lived experience of indigenous peoples, and their impact within a diverse Canadian society.
Presented before a live audience in Nanaimo on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, the lectures will be broadcast on the CBC Radio program Ideas. This prestigious program provides a national forum for discussion of critical issues, and has a long-established following of engaged, educated and influential listeners.
The lectures will feature a 50-minute presentation followed by a question-and-answer format discussion with audience members, assisted by a moderator.
In future years the annual lecture is planned to serve as the keynote address for a related conference on indigenous issues and reconciliation, to be hosted by VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation treaties and Reconciliation. As well as an opportunity to share academic knowledge among thought leaders, the conference will provide a national forum for indigenous people to lead the challenging conversations that are an essential step on the path towards reconciliation.
The format for the conference will include invited speakers who are widely respected for their expertise, wisdom and leadership, and will include panel discussions and workshops as well as more formal presentations. These exchanges will enable mutually respectful interaction among academics, community leaders and traditional keepers of knowledge.
Potential outcomes of the conference proceedings will be documents and experiences that contribute to the shaping of action plans for addressing the disadvantages experienced by indigenous peoples, encouraging recognition for their unique place in the fabric of Canada, and encouraging reconciliation among cultures.