VIU Health and Human Services Faculty Honoured by Snuneymuxw
A special honouring ceremony for Health and Human Services faculty and Vancouver Island University leaders took place Friday, April 10 in Snuneymuxw First Nation’s traditional Big House in Nanaimo, with Elders, students and community members bearing witness.
President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson and Chancellor Louise Mandell, along with Health and Human Services faculty, were honoured with a presentation of blankets before leading the group into the Big House, each escorted by a community or student representative.
As the smoke of two welcoming fires rose to the rafters of the Big House located on Snuneymuxw territory in Cedar, the honourees were at the centre of a traditional ceremony. They stood together to listen as Elders from the Footprints of the Wolves drumming group shared songs, followed the Tzinquaw Dance Group from Cowichan territory in their presentation of the honour song.
Students in attendance were invited to “raise their hands” to their instructors – a sign of thanks shared by First Nations people across Vancouver Island and beyond – and to walk in single file past the honoured group between the ceremonial fires.
The Snuneymuxw honouring ceremony was the culmination of a week of special activities tied to Health & Human Services’ Seasons of Health and Healing event, now in its third year. During the week, First Nations health and healing practitioners visited students in Health and Human Services classrooms. Students in programs ranging from Bachelor of Science in Nursing, to Health Care Assistant, Social Work, Dental Hygiene, Practical Nursing and Child and Youth Care benefited from learning about Aboriginal perspectives in healthcare, healing and wellness, and to learn cultural protocol that will prove helpful and valuable in their future careers.
Prior to the honouring ceremony, Dr. Nilson raised his hands to the Snuneymuxw community for their welcome and willingness to share culture and friendship, acknowledging the long relationship that has existed between VIU and the Snuneymuxw First Nation.