Dr. Judith Sayers to be installed as VIU chancellor in ceremony on Thursday

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal council president Dr. Judith Sayers will be installed as Vancouver Island University’s third chancellor during a virtual ceremony on Thursday.

Sayers, who is also known as Kekinusuqs, was appointed to the position in October 2020 for a three-year term. The installation is a ceremonial introduction typically held within the first year of the new chancellor assuming office duties.

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A livestream of the event is scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m.

“One of the reasons I am attracted to VIU and to this position is how closely the university has worked with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and other nations,” Sayers said in a statement. “I would like to see those kinds of partnerships continue to grow and flourish.”

She said the university “takes its commitment to reconciliation seriously,” and that she is excited to work with VIU president Dr. Deb Saucier, who is also Indigenous, “to continue implementing Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”

Next week, Sayers will offer a graduate oath and speech during the university’s convocation ceremonies.

“I think we have to hold up our students for being able to complete their degrees despite COVID-19,” she said. “Wishing them the biggest success going back to their communities and following their dreams further.”

Sayers said she would like to help VIU become a leading voice in eradicating racism and make the university a place where everyone sees themselves reflected.

“We need to be more open to working with students to do the kind of research they want to do in their own way,” she said. “So much of Indigenous history has never been written properly. When you see our students going out and exploring these areas, for me, it’s very exciting. We need to tell our own stories.”

Before Sayers became president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in 2017, she was the elected chief of the Hupacasath First Nation for 14 years. She is also a member of the Order of Canada and the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame.

Saucier said she looked forward to working with Sayers to “further advance the Indigenization of VIU.”

“Dr. Sayers’ accomplishments in advancing Indigenous rights and promoting capacity-building sustainable development projects sets an example for our students and community members about what is possible when you put your passion and education to work,” she said.

Sayers said she looks forward to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to “decolonizing the university.”

“I’d like to take on a major role in promoting innovative ideas and better understanding through education,” she said.

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