VIU has recently established a Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation.
The purpose of this centre is to advance research, gain understanding, and increase public dialogue in relation to pre-confederation treaties from across the country and the challenge of reconciliation.
Douglas White, (Kwulasultun and Tliishin) lawyer, former Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and former member of the First Nations Summit Task Group and BC First Nations Leadership Council has been appointed Interim Director.
White has spent his career working for, advising, and leading First Nations organizations, and is pleased with the opening of the new centre. “The critical project of treaty implementation and reconciliation requires a deep, shared understanding of the history of Crown-First Nation relations and a clear, shared view of what is required for reconciliation today in its fullest and proper form. I’m happy that our communities have found a strong partner in VIU for this project. This institution, my alma mater, has demonstrated real leadership towards building understanding about treaties. It also contributes significantly to reconciliation processes in the region and nationally.”
VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Ralph Nilson said “This represents the continued evolution of VIU, and our leadership and dedication on matters related to First Nations. VIU is proud to be leading this new stage in education about these treaties, which will also play a role in meeting the challenge of reconciliation. Our university is in a territory where a treaty was entered in 1854—a Douglas Treaty. It has taken 160 years for a centre to be founded that focuses on the study of that pre-confederation treaty and others like it—a sign of how much learning we still have to do and which this centre can now facilitate.”
Louise Mandell, QC, leading Aboriginal and Treaty Rights lawyer said “Pre-confederation treaties are unique elements of the history of British Columbia and Canada, and they rightfully have been recognized by the courts as different than any other treaties across the country. Deepening our awareness of the histories, stories, and meanings of these treaties are vital to advancing and enriching discourse and action for reconciliation everywhere.”
The centre will function to provide leadership and education through advanced research, symposia, publications, and facilitation of dialogue regarding pre-confederation treaties and reconciliation.
Douglas White, lawyer, former Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and former member of the First Nations Summit Task Group and BC First Nations Leadership Council.