The University of British Columbia and the Musqueam Indian Band Council have signed an historic Memorandum of Affiliation to further the sharing of knowledge and the advancement of Musqueam and Aboriginal youth and adults in post-secondary education.
The memorandum lays out a process to expand and create programs that encourage Aboriginal youth to pursue post-secondary education while enhancing the relationship between the UBC and Musqueam communities.
The official signing ceremony took place this month at the Musqueam Elders Centre. The ceremony also announced a competition to select an artist to carve a Musqueam House Pole for UBC’s Vancouver campus, which is located on Musqueam traditional territory.
“This Memorandum of Affiliation is a significant step forward in strengthening a relationship of mutual trust and respect that we have been developing with the Musqueam people,” says UBC President Stephen J. Toope. “Our relationship will continue to focus on a true exchange of knowledge that will enrich both communities.”
“This agreement cements our commitment to working as partners with UBC on a variety of mentoring, sports and academic programs that encourage, inspire and empower not only Musqueam but all First Nations students to expect and strive for the best,” says Musqueam Councillor Delbert Guerin, who signed the memorandum on behalf of Musqueam.
Current UBC Aboriginal initiatives in partnership with Musqueam include:
- The Bridge Through Sports program, which holds an annual Musqueam/UBC Soccer Tournament for kids aged four to 16
- Homework and reading clubs facilitated by UBC athletes
- A creative writing course for Aboriginal students led by Dogrib author Richard Van Camp.
- Musqueam 101, a weekly non-credit university-level seminar, and
- Hun’qumi’num, a credit Musqueam language course co-developed by the UBC First Nations Languages Program and the Musqueam Indian Band. (Musqueam 101 and Hun’qumi’num are offered at Musqueam.)
“This agreement is a critical advancement of UBC’s ongoing commitment to First Nations,” says Richard Vedan, Senior Advisor to the President on Aboriginal Affairs and Director of the First Nations House of Learning. “It is the UBC Vancouver piece of a similar agreement with the Okanagan Nation Alliance that relates to UBC Okanagan.”
Vedan oversees Aboriginal programs at UBC, many of which are developed and run in partnership with B.C. First Nations communities, including the Native Indian Teacher Education Program, the First Nations Studies Program in Arts, the Institute for Aboriginal Health and the Chinook Program in Business, just to name a few.
There are currently 500-600 Aboriginal undergraduate and graduate students at UBC. Increasing recruitment of Aboriginal students and faculty is part of Trek 2010, the university’s strategic plan.
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