Friday, May 31, 2019

UBC Indigenous Engagement Committee

The following are my comments opening the meeting today of UBC's Board of Governor's  Indigenous Engagement Committee.  The agenda today focussed on approval in principle of the university's Indigenous strategic plan.

Sm’oogyit, Smgigyet, Lik’agyigyet, Sigidmana’ax. My name is Charles Menzies, I am a member of Gitxaała Nation and a faculty member at UBC.  I will be chairing today’s meeting in place of committee Chair Celeste Haldane who is travelling today and unable to join us by phone.

I would like to open the meeting by acknowledging we are meeting on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam People.

I look forward to the day when such land acknowledgements reflect an actual decolonized world and trust that some small part of the work we do today will bring us closer to that day.

UBC is built upon Indigenous lands and a great deal of its research, teaching and learning, has been made possible by that fact.  UBC has been coming to the realization that there is an important relationship to build and maintain with Indigenous peoples in BC, Canada, and more globally. Shaping UBC’s Next Century, the University’s strategic plan expresses the University’s commitments to this relationship.

Canada, like other settler nations, has had a difficult time coming to terms with its current colonial practices and it’s colonial legacies. Universities, as centers of learning, free thinking, and social transformation, must take their place in participating in moving our societies forward. As Santa Ono noted in his apology a very short while ago, acknowledging our institutional culpability in the colonial process is a critical first step toward decolonization. The next step is actually doing something to make it happen.

The Indigenous Strategic Plan provides the framework through which the University will start to make things happen.