Honours wrap up special week at VIU

Thu. Apr. 16/15

Both vice-chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson and chancellor Louise Mandell of Vancouver Island University were honoured recently as the culmination of special activities tied to the Health and Human Services department's Seasons of Health and Healing event.

Now in its third year, the week featured visits from First Nations health and healing practitioners in Health and Human Services classrooms. The practitioners offered Aboriginal perspectives in healthcare, healing and wellness, and taught cultural protocol to students in programs ranging from nursing, to health care assistant, social work, dental hygiene and child and youth care.

At the ceremony, Nilson and Mandell, along with Health and Human Services faculty, were honoured with a presentation of blankets before leading the group into the Big House located on Snuneymuxw territory in Cedar.

Each were escorted by a community or student representative.

As the smoke of two welcoming fires rose to the rafters of the Big House, Nilson and Mandell 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 Tzingqwa 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.

Prior to the honouring ceremony, 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.