Thompson Rivers University

Taking an Indigenous approach to the future

June 22, 2018

TRU indigenous elder Mike Arnouse stands beside the Secwepemc territorial marker during his National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018 address.

As indigenization and reconciliation impact campuses and in communities across the country, traditional ways are increasingly being looked to for answers to today’s problems.

“Now within universities we’re finding that it’s great to learn about arts, it’s great to learn about sciences, but as we move through the 21st century, we need philosophy and ethics to keep our earth sustainable. And how do you do that? We need to get to the ancient wisdoms—the old traditional wisdoms—because our people protected the resources for thousands upon thousands of years, and that’s what we need to do for the next generations,” said Paul Michel, executive director of TRU Aboriginal Affairs, during a celebration on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day.

TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Shaver addresses the audience during.

Held at the Secwepemc territorial marker on the ground floor of Old Main, the celebration was also used to welcome new staff and faculty to TRU and the traditional lands that TRU is located on—Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc within Secwépemc’ulucw, the traditional territory of the Secwépemc people. About 50 people attended the gathering, including students, staff, faculty, administrators and the public.

Michel continued, “We have philosophies where it’s the next seven generations that we need to protect things for, and that’s why we tell our stories. That’s why when you do your research, we tell you to put into your plan, ‘How am I acknowledging Indigenous knowledge?’ There isn’t an area of study at TRU where we can’t include that acknowledgement.”

Before this year, June 21 was recognized as National Aboriginal Day. This is the first year the day has been recognized on campus.

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018 Katy Gottfriedson

Councillor Katy Gottfriedson spoke on behalf of Tk’emlups te Swecwepemc chief and council.

TRU’s indigenization efforts

In recent years, TRU has taken steps toward reconciliation and  indigenizing the campus, whether that’s recognizing TRU being on traditional lands, hiring more Indigenous staff and faculty, offering First Nations language classes, incorporating Indigenous culture into courses and programs, creating more opportunities for Indigenous student research and bolstering Indigenous support services like mentorship.

Here are some of TRU’s efforts:

Indigenous TRU

The Coyote Project

Indigenization initiatives

Indigenous research

TRU’s Aboriginal Service Plan 2016–19


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