At Trinity Western University in Langley, Patricia Victor has been leading faculty researchers to better understand the Stó:lō land and context where Trinity Western was founded in 1962.
“(We) tell our own stories of the significant places…so that we have not just a Trinity Western history, but also the Indigenous history of the land where we’re located,” said Victor in an interview for Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, June 21.
Victor is Stó:lō from Cheam First Nation, B.C. She is also the pastor of a First Nations church in Chilliwack and an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
“Stó:lō means river,” she explained, “We are walking beside the Fraser River, hearing stories and history. (We are) looking at the current context, and at what we’re doing today that is having an impact on Stó:lō people.”
” Victor’s journey at TWU began when she was a graduate student, pursuing a Master of Arts in Leadership with a focus on Christian ministry.
While pursuing graduate studies at TWU, Victor was invited to join a TWU task force whose purpose was to build good relationships with the Indigenous community.
When Victor graduated in 2012, she was invited to become TWU’s first-ever University Siya:m. In the language of the Stó:lō people, “Siya:m” describes a leader recognized for wisdom and integrity, who willingly shares knowledge with others.
Victor describes how her role as Siya:m has three main areas of focus. The first is to raise awareness of Indigenous perspectives among the TWU community.
Victor’s second area of focus is caring for students.
The third component of Victor’s work is building relationships beyond TWU’s campuses. Her work is to foster connections with TWU and Aboriginal communities and to build educational partnerships.
The School of Nursing, for example, has provided opportunities for students to fulfill their practicums within Stó:lō Indigenous communities. The School of Education has partnerships with Indigenous schools, and places students within Indigenous classrooms for teaching practicums. “We’ve had good opportunity there,” said Victor about the nursing and education partnerships.
Victor sees these partnerships as key to moving forward. “So it’s not just ‘us and them’ but that solid relationship,” she said.
June is National Aboriginal History Month.
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