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Indigenous Initiatives

Acknowledgement of Territories

The British Columbia Institute of Technology acknowledges that our campuses are located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Nations of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam).

The Origin and Importance of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Between 1831 and 1996, the federal government forcibly removed more than 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children from their families and sent them to residential schools far from their homes. These family separations were very traumatic for parents, children and communities because they were done against their will and without their consent. At these church and government-run schools, officials robbed many Indigenous children of their culture, language, religion and traditions, and caused them tremendous physical, mental, emotional and sexual harm. The Honourable Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (the “TRC”), estimates that 25,000 children never made it home: they died as a result of malnutrition, disease, hypothermia, neglect and abuse.

Today we witness the disclosure of 1000’s of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools. We call them disclosures rather than ‘discoveries’ because survivors have been sharing their stories for more than one hundred and fifty years: the oral histories of siblings, friends and classmates who went missing and died at residential schools are well known throughout Indigenous communities. Unfortunately, Canadian society failed to listen to survivors and believe their stories.

The Five Pillars of IDEAS: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Sustainability

Each week, we will provide a brief introduction to one of the five pillars, some questions to inspire reflection and specific actions that you can take to further reconciliation.

Here is an overview of what you can expect:

Week 1 (August 30) – Inclusion: Including Indigenous voices and knowledge
Week 2 (September 6) – Diversity: Diverse from who?
Week 3 (September 13) – Equity: Equity vs. Equality?
Week 4 (September 20) – Accessibility: Barriers to Accessibility for Indigenous students
Week 5 (September 27) – Sustainability: Lessons we can learn from Indigenous cultures about balance and living in good relations with one another and with the land.

We look forward to seeing you each week and learning together. If you would like some additional support or guidance, would like to participate in any of our events or learn more about IDEAS, please contact us at indigenous@bcit.ca. We also welcome any suggestions that you might have for future topics.

Check for updates

Please back on a weekly basis for updates on events that will be happening the week of September 27th – October 1st, 2021.

References

Government of Canada. (2021, July 20). Federal Statutory Holiday: National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Government of Canada. [website]. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/maple-leaf/defence/2021/07/federal-statutory-holiday-national-day-for-truth-and-reconciliation.html

Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (“IRSHDC”). (n.d.). Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters. Retrieved on August 17, 2021 from https://irshdc.ubc.ca/visit/events/orangeshirtday/

Potenteau, D. (2021, May 28). Grief, sorrow after discovery of 215 bodies in unmarked graves at former residential school site. Global News. [website]. Retrieved on August 19, 2021 from
https://globalnews.ca/news/7902306/unmarked-graves-kamloops-residential-school/

Week 4: Accessibility

This week, we will examine some of the systemic barriers that Indigenous students face when they try to access post-secondary institutions and achieve their educational goals. As discussed last week, some Indigenous students are well equipped to navigate and excel in post-secondary education while others face considerable challenges. We should be mindful of the fact that each Indigenous learner has a unique combination of factors that affect their participation and success in education.

Week 5:  Sustainability

This week’s examination of Sustainability will build on our earlier discussions of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility. We have prepared a brief summary of our learning journey so far to show the interconnectedness of these concepts that underpin our efforts to Indigenize and Decolonize post-secondary education.

Inclusion

In week one, we examined including and centering Indigenous knowledge, languages and traditional teaching practices into post-secondary programs, curricula and meetings to ensure Indigenous students, faculty and staff feel that their lived experiences are seen and valued. ‘Inclusion’ is often seen as a positive term but it can be problematic because there is often an implicit assumption that those who control access to post-secondary education, namely Caucasian non-Indigenous people, should continue to act as gatekeepers and get to decide if and how they will include Indigenous people. We challenged you to take action that demonstrates your commitment to implement CICAN’s Indigenous Education Protocol.

Diversity

We unpacked the racist assumptions that underpin the concept of diversity, namely that Caucasian non Indigenous people are the standard against which all other people are and should be compared. We encouraged you to think and act differently when it comes to diversity: to jettison token gestures of diversity (e.g. creating a diversity flag) and focus on substantive and structural change (e.g. redistributing resources in ways that move towards Indigenous faculty, students and staff).

Equity

We discussed the difference between equity and equality and provided guidance on how to become an equity advocate. We challenged you to work collaboratively with the Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships Team to develop and implement equity-centered policies that prioritize Indigenous learners and empower them to achieve their personal educational goals.

Accessibility

We explained that most efforts to improve accessibility are unsuccessful because they focus on individuals instead of the oppressive colonial systems and structures in which they operate. We encouraged you to learn more about the unique barriers to participation faced by Indigenous students and to work collaboratively with Indigenous educators to co-develop and implement accessibility-centered admission, outreach and retention policies and programs.


Indigenous Vision

In May 2019, BCIT launched An Indigenous Vision: A Framework for Action and Accountability. The Vision complements the three commitments in BCIT’s Strategic Plan. Furthermore, our implementation plan is structured around the principles of the Colleges and Institutes Canada Indigenous Education Protocol.

Indigenous Gathering Place

Indigenous Initiatives provides a comfortable and welcoming place for students, families and staff through the Indigenous Gathering Place.

Did you know?

Indigenous mentor hand illustration

Indigenous Gathering Place is called Mi Chap Tukw which means “a home away from home”. The hand logo, called Snewayelh (“teachings”), symbolizes the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next and it raised in the Coast Salish welcome gesture.

To connect with an Indigenous Advisor email IndigenousAdvisor@bcit.ca

Upcoming scholarships, awards and bursaries deadlines

BCIT Bursaries (October 30th)

A bursary is a non-repayable award granted to a full-time student who is progressing satisfactorily in their BCIT credential program, who submits a completed full-time student bursary application form, and who demonstrates that they are in need of financial assistance to complete their current academic period. You are a full-time student if you are enrolled in 60% or more of a 100% course load.

Indspire Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards for Post-Secondary Education (November 1 deadline)
Post-Secondary Education Programs
Full and part time studies in college, university, skilled trades, apprenticeships, and technology programs.

There is one application for all of Indspire’s bursaries, scholarships, and awards (with a few exceptions that you’ll see below). You only need to complete the application once to be considered for all applicable bursaries, scholarships, and awards. September 2021 to August 2022 academic year.

TransAlta Indigenous Student Bursary (November 1 deadline)
Seven (7) bursaries for Indigenous students attending post-secondary institutions – college or university. Three (3) bursaries for students training in the trades – technical college or apprenticeship program.

ḴEL,ḴELOŦEN ȻE S,ISTEW̱ – Indigenous Student Award in Engineering/Architecture (November 30th, 2021) Do you identify as an Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit, or Métis person from BC with a desire to pursue a career in the Architecture and Engineering industry? Are you enrolled or have you applied for the 2021/2022 post-secondary school year? If this resonates with your journey please click on the link to apply for the Indigenous Student Award.

BCIT Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund (IEAF) – Indigenous post-secondary students experiencing financial pressures can apply for the IEAF. Students who access emergency funding do not have to repay it. BCIT Indigenous students can contact our office for help with the application process.

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