Let Us Speak: Indigenous Students Deserve to have a Voice at Simon Fraser University

Let Us Speak: Indigenous Students Deserve to have a Voice at Simon Fraser University

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First Nations Student Association started this petition to Simon Fraser University and

PLEASE ALSO EMAIL USING TEMPLATE (Subject Line: LET INDIGENOUS STUDENTS SPEAK): 

EMAIL TEMPLATE LINK HERE 

Joy Johnson (Simon Fraser University President): Pres_sec@sfu.ca & joy_johnson@sfu.ca

Rummana Khan Hemani (Simon Fraser University Vice - Provost and Associate Vice - President): vpsi@sfu.ca

Ron Johnston (Office for Aboriginal Peoples Pro Term Acting Director): ronaldj@sfu.ca

Office for Aboriginal Peoples: askoap@sfu.ca

_______________________________________________________________________________

The First Nations Student Association (FNSA) and Indigenous Community at Simon Fraser University have largely been excluded from current and ongoing Reconciliation projects. We want to see this cycle end.

Exclusion of Indigenous Students within SFU Decision Making or Gatherings:

SFU has a history of excluding the voices of Indigenous students from consultation processes through many tactics:

Lack of Invitation:

  • SFU Elders have not been included in consultative meetings
  • The First Nations Student Association (FNSA) and Indigenous Community at Simon Fraser University have largely been excluded from current and ongoing Reconciliation projects. 
  • The FNSA were not included in the decision making process in regards to the First Person Gathering House (FPGH)
  • On October 1st of this term the FNSA had attended a consultative “workshop” (in which they were not invited to) - since that day, they have been amplifying their recommendations to acknowledge and include Indigenous students
  • Ground Awakening Ceremony: FNSA was not formally invited or informed of this historic event

Continuous Last Minute and Unprepared Invitations:

  • Within First Peoples Gathering House consultations, typically 5 to 10 student are able to attend due to the lack of proper preparation and invitation (when more could attend)
  • In regards to the Aboriginal Steering Committee Meeting, The FNSA was made aware of the meeting days before it was to be held, and send the agenda the day of the event
  • There has been a minimum of three consultative meetings (seen below) that have been public/open to Indigenous Students - majority of meetings, again, invited students last minute without proper invitation to ensure attendance;
    • One at the Indigenous Studies department seminar room 
    • One at Surrey (not specifically for Indigenous peoples but open to SFU community)
    • One that was advocated for and set up at the Indigenous Students Centre 
    • There have only been 5-8 Indigenous students to attend these "consultative" meetings

Inaccessible Means of Communication:

  • On November 12 2020 at the Aboriginal Steering Committee (ASC) executive members disabled chat function to minimize dialogue for Indigenous Students when students distinctively voiced that they could only communicate via chat. (And executive members kept chat disabled after multiple reminders)
  • There are five to eight Indigenous students in total that attended all forums. That is not an adequate number in order to represent students. Moreover, there needs to be an understanding that in order to properly consult with Indigenous students, there has to be adequate timelines with clarifications if meetings are ongoing to ensure consistent attendance for voices to be heard 

Lack of Consulting Indigenous Students & Community on Topics That Regard Them:

Consultation on allocation of resources and finances/funding:

  • $4 million out of $9 million dollars were spent from the Aboriginal Strategic Initiative (ASI) funds without Indigenous student consultation. Later Indigenous students were notified on November 12th 2020 at the Aboriginal Steering Committee meeting of the lump sum of money spent, but not on specifically what
    • No breakdown was provided of where resources were allocated
    • Also, insufficient documentation and transparency that has been available and distributed to FNSA and Indigenous students

Lack of Consistent Consultation:

  • Since the Witnessing Ceremony in 2017 there has been limited outreach from the Reconciliation Working Group and also Aboriginal Steering Committee & Reconciliation Working Group
  • In the Urban Arts FPGH Vision Report there are no consultation minutes with the First Nation Students Association specifically
  • Musqueam is also not included in the Urban Arts FPGH Vision Report, there are no meeting minutes that specifically say Musqueam has been consulted 

Lack of Representation in Regards to Adequate Indigenous Student Presence: 

  • As of right now there is only one Indigenous person on the Reconciliation Working Group
  • Only two Indigenous people on the First Peoples Gathering House Building Committee
  • BOTH of these groups have no representation of Indigenous Students, Indigenous Women, or Elders. 
  • No community representation in meetings or invited or informed
  • There were three Indigenous students and 26 SFU administrators at the Aboriginal Steering Committee
    • It is unreasonable to expect three Indigenous students to speak for the entire Indigenous student community due to our unique experiences and backgrounds as Indigenous people 
    • Insufficient Indigenous Student representation on governing and decision making bodies on an institutional level:
      • Aboriginal Steering Committee, FPGH Building Committee, Reconciliation Working Group

Forcing Labour of Indigenous Students in Attempts to be Represented (Indigenous Students are forced to work harder to be heard at the table and to be included in discussions that involve and surround them - forced organizing and campaigning):

  • The First Nation Students Association (FNSA) and Indigenous student community are speaking our truths, and with that this has come with a huge toll of time, labour, and commitment from Indigenous students. 
  • We have been providing ongoing free consultation without any form of compensation, reciprocity, or commitments from SFU
  • Our calls to action continue to go unacknowledged
  • Indigenous students have been forced to share lived experiences to provide context of how lack of inclusion impacts their emotional, spiritual, and physical well being:
    • Providing such experiences resurfaces trauma as well as feelings of imposter syndrome
    • It is appalling that our trauma legitimizes our need to be heard
    • Little to no commitment to ensure Indigenous student voices are prioritized on decision making bodies on an institutional level 

Gaslighting and Dismissing Indigenous Student Concerns and Calls to Action:

  • In recent meetings with Simon Fraser University and the Office for Aboriginal Peoples, Indigenous students have been gaslighted, our concerns minimized, and dismissed. 
    • In recent meetings Indigenous students have voiced their concerns: either there is no response or comments made to de-legitimize student concerns. “You haven’t been here long enough.” “This isn't just for Indigenous students” “I am honestly confused what you mean by this.”
  • We feel our passion for advocacy is being exploited, as we continuously provide free consultation.
  • It is not okay that Indigenous students are taking up the work to correct the harms that have been caused by SFU
  • Dismissing Indigenous students legitimate concerns and disclosing harm that's been caused has gone unrecognized
  • Continuing to proceed with projects even after Indigenous have voiced their concerns and how this impacts them

Our priorities that stand as of right now are:

  • Create space on the First Peoples Gathering House Building committee for Indigenous Students and a Community Advisory Board:
    • This includes but is not limited to the FNSA Board, SFU’s Indigenous Elders, and key community members who have shown their ability to work with Indigenous students
  • Delay the development of the First Peoples Gathering House until Indigenous Students and key community members are properly consulted:
    • A minimum of three more public forums for Indigenous students, SFU Elders and Indigenous community members to participate in
  • A public statement outlining the harms that have been caused to Indigenous students and the community and ongoing commitment to ensuring that Indigenous students are prioritized in future reconciliation efforts at SFU
  • Commit to following through the original Calls to Action set out by the FNSA and Indigenous community

Here is our public letters from the FNSA and Resources:

PUBLIC LETTERS FROM FNSA

Here is our current letters of support:

OUR LETTERS OF SUPPORT

 

 

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