- Astrid Delia Wilson
Decolonizing Post Secondary
Simon Fraser University is located on traditional First Nations lands, it should always be acknowledged with one of the following four phrases, depending on campus location. We respectfully acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples on those traditional territories our three campuses reside at For the Burnaby campus Simon Fraser University acknowledges the unceded Traditional Coast Salish Lands including the Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ), Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw) and Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) Nations.
Creating a decolonized space first means embracing the knowledge systems facilitated by Indigenous people, teachers, elders, students ect. SFU should want to create a reciprocal learning environment where Indigenous students and Indigenous professors feel comfortable and confident in teaching/learning together and from each other equally as they would have outside of a Western academic setting. Reconciliation in this regard is about establishing and maintaining respectful relationships to the Indigenous people who attend SFU. We need to respectfully acknowledge that we do not yet live as a society that is based on mutual respect and understanding to Indigenous people on and off campus. The goal is to repair the relationship between aboriginal people and Simon Fraser University.
The lack of reciprocity within Western education highlights the uneven power dynamic embedded within both universities and settler colonial society at large. True decolonization means genuinely listening to Indigenous community members and creating shifts in the power dynamics that uplift Indigenous ways of connecting with the lived environment. Institutions, including both universities and government systems, need to provide more than seats at the table. We are past that. Indigenous people need to be at the forefront of strategic planning and equitable decision-making processes. We’ve all seen these articles make their rounds. In the midst of this summer’s protests against racism and police brutality, one organization after another released statements apologizing for past behavior and promising to do better by decolonizing their spaces. The word decolonization has become a “whitewashed" catchphrase used by universities, museums, and other ”prestigious” institutions steeped in settler colonial frameworks. A true decolonized institution tries their best to remove the colonization they’ve built and sustained by adding new diversity requirements. We need to try to understand that you can’t truly decolonize without listening to and uplifting local Indigenous voices. Our University should try to take part in the transformation that involves not simply inclusion of Indigenous narratives but the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge. It is highly possible to reconcile and give new opportunities and experience for the Indigenous society to help learn from to past to focus on a better future to especially if it’s actively practiced in open communication and focuses from the help of our Indigenous society at Simon Fraser University. A key component is communication from the Indigenous representative leaders, It will help us to understand where they stand in regard to reconciliation. Yes we cannot change the past, but we all can take part in creating a meaningful future that honours Indigenous Peoples culture and history to create a strong relationship between the non Indigenous society. Decolonization in Post Secondary means genuinely listening to Indigenous teachers/students members and creating positive shifts in power dynamics.
Ǧiáxsix̌a for reading!