Indigenous Staff, Faculty and Students are invited to come together on October 11th from 12:30- 2:00 PM for informal conversations, community building and healing as we navigate the ongoing journey of truth, reconciliation, and redress in our communities.
Event title: ʕat̕ikšiƛin naas łaakt̕uuła w̕it̕asin: In the Midst of Grief We Are Healing: An Affinity Event for Indigenous Staff, Faculty and Students in STEM
Date: 11 October 2023
Time: 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Venue: Rooms 5104/5106 – Earth Sciences Building (ESB), 2207 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4
Format: Informal conversation and community building. Food and beverages will be provided.
Written by Derek Thompson – Thlaapkiituup, Director, Indigenous Engagement
Years ago, I was in an honors history class and the title was something like Epidemiology and Pacific Northwest Coast Native Peoples, and the purpose of the class was to consider the so-called Northwest Coast Native experience with contact-era new diseases and the associated population loss that affected in one way or another virtually every aspect of Native culture. The professor often turned to me for some type of reply given that I was the only Native in the class, and likely the only Pacific Northwest Coast Native in the University of Saskatchewan. I was talking about the effect of cumulative unresolved grief and trauma within the contexts of new diseases and the onslaught of oppression and assimilation that followed.
There’s so much grief in our communities, it’s there all of the time, it’s just always there, and we are a hurt people, and we’re hurting people. There are many people in our communities that need to cry, and they don’t, and it’s often to their detriment, creating layers of intergenerational unresolved grief and trauma. The people that I come from, the Nuu-chah-nulth, believe that the profound nature of acknowledgment of those in our presence who are grieving is fundamental to our ability to thrive. Because even in the midst of grief we are healing, and as we cry, we’re healing, and when we cry together in the vulnerability of deep sorrow we are starting to heal.
I was interrupted by a young white male student and he went on for some time referencing one book or another and regurgitating what he’d read somewhere about Indian people. He continued in an effort to rationalize Canada’s intentions to assimilate Indians and minimize the effect of colonialism, and that if the Indians had just done as they were supposed to do, well, we wouldn’t be sitting here complaining about it. He sounded very bright, intelligent and righteous.
And I told him as much, that he’s very smart and articulate, and that I agree with everything he said. I also added that I was struck by his ignorance and hedonistic disposition, and that I found it curious that someone so smart couldn’t hear what I just said – There’s so much grief in our communities, it’s there all of the time, it’s just always there, and we are a hurt people, and we’re hurting people.
Today’s work of telling the truth, telling our truths, and listening to the many truths of the past and present, of truth and reconciliation, and of reckoning with the truth, is equally necessary and difficult. This work requires all of us to be brave, confident and gracious, and in the absence of this sensibility we are left to repeat the wrongs of the past. This work requires all of us to be compassionate, respectful and dignified, and the combined effect of these values is that we all arrive at what it means to heal, and to heal together, with each other, and with a shared resolve to come to terms with each other as Indigenous peoples and as Canadians.
The goal of this event is to come together to support one another in a continuing era of truth, reconciliation and redress, and as we learn and grow so does our ability to be vulnerable.
This event is a organized by a group of collaborators across the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Forestry, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, the Faculty of Applied Science, and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
- Derek Thompson – Faculty of Medicine
- Roslyn Golder –Faculty of Medicine
- Maï Yasué – Faculty of Medicine
- Ashley Welsh – Faculty of Science
- Hisham Zerriffi – Faculty of Forestry
- Nadine Gerhardt – Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
- Dana-Lyn Mackenzie – Faculty of Applied Science
- Ajay Puri – Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO)
- Madison Tardif – Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO)