Over the past month I have participated in “Stories from the Land” and “Stories from the Water” with VIU’s Elders in residence, Uncle Gary (Xulsimalt), and Sylvia Scow from the Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement. These events offer an opportunity to hear the Elder’s reflect on their connection to the land, learn about the unwritten history of these places, and learn more about Indigenous protocol.
We met Uncle Gary and Sylvia in Departure Bay for both events, travelling by canoe for the water event and by foot for the land event. We listened to stories of the traditional connection Indigenous people have to this land, and how that connection to the land persists in cultural teachings and ways of being. We had an opportunity to practice protocol by introducing ourselves through our ancestors, and where we originated.
I was delighted to have been a part of these sessions exploring stories of the land and water with Uncle Gary. Gary shared stories which were sad and challenging to hear, but always with a sense of hope for the future. I’ve learned about the unwritten history of some very special locations in Nanaimo; Newcastle Island, Departure Bay, and Jack Point Park (2017). When I visit these places, I now better understand their historical significance and how important they are to the Snuneymuxw people.
Working at VIU has provided me with an opportunity to learn more about Indigenous culture, land, and people than any other place I have worked. This has, and continues to, shape my practice and approach as an educator. Thank you for creating these opportunities and allowing us to teach, learn, research, live, and share knowledge together on these traditional lands.
I captured some video during the journey by water that I have compiled in the video below.