Print Edition: January 14, 2015
UFV has recently seen the creation of its first aboriginal students club (ASC). The group aims to bring a stronger aboriginal presence to UFV, educating students about the impact of aboriginal history and culture within the Fraser Valley, as well as affording UFV students opportunities to become involved with their community through the ASC’s events and functions.
The club’s president Morris Prosser says that the ASC is concerned with bringing a strong cultural identity to UFV. The group focuses on organizing and participating in events, as well as being an active part of the aboriginal community not only at UFV, but throughout the Fraser Valley.
“Part of our contribution to UFV’s International Week was to bring notable people from the Stó:l? community into UFV to speak [on various topics],” Prosser said. “We organized and set that all up.”
In addition to facilitating multiple talks at UFV and helping out with UFV’s International Week, the ASC also organized attendance of a place-names tour offered by the Stó:l? Research and Resource Management Centre. The tour takes students up the Fraser River and along the Fraser Canyon to visit spots significant to Stó:l? culture and history.
“The tour company was already there, but we decided to [use it] with international students so that they could get a better idea of what the Stó:l? culture and history is [like],” Prosser said. “Sonny McHalsie from the Stó:l? Resource Management Centre [has been] instrumental in the organizing of the tours.” The ASC organized the last student tour in October, and another is being planned for the near future.
The group has also helped facilitate events such as UFV Talks: Empowering Youth — Local and Global Indigenous Peoples, which was held in November. According to Prosser, these presentations “focused on aboriginal youth, especially centred on youth empowerment and what aboriginal youth are doing, [since] aboriginal youth are quite a large population within our community.”
Another aspect that the ASC is looking into is holding the same type of youth empowerment talks at different high schools. “We’re thinking about [looking into organizing talks] at the high schools we came from, since we have a connection there,” Prosser said.
“We haven’t gotten to that point yet. It is something we have talked about at length, though.” The ASC is also looking into fostering connections with similar groups at different universities across BC.
Among their plans for the future is a collaborative effort between the university and the ASC. “We’re in talks right now with [UFV] about a youth mental health day,” Prosser said. He explained that the event would reach outside the institution as well, including high schools, and would be a collaborative effort. “There’s also a newly formed group, the First Nations Nursing Students, who I think could contribute more as they’re more geared towards mental health and related topics.”
Prosser encourages all UFV students to get involved with the UFV ASC, as it offers keen insights and educational experiences relating to Aboriginal Peoples of the Fraser Valley from a much more involved perspective than the one they may have been exposed to in related coursework.