The SFU Vancouver campus boasts a thriving Indigenous presence, one they are proud to share

Thursday 09th, March 2017 / 15:39
By Farzad Taheri

VANCOUVER – Acimosis (pronounced “ah-chee-moo-sis”) is the Cree word for puppy. It is also the honorary nickname that William Lindsay and his team gave their ex-secretary at the SFU office for Aboriginal Peoples.

Lindsay and his colleague Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn, who are considered to be the go-to experts of the Indigenous Research Institute at SFU, have introduced a new approach of sharing academic research with the general public, specifically the Downtown Eastside. Lindsay, who grew up in that community, describes himself as a “Chindian” (Chinese-speaking Indian) — a term that he learned from someone in the audience during his recent Aboriginal Speaker Series presentation.

The Speaker Series serves to give people “a flavour of the kind of research that is happening in SFU,” in an interactive and entertaining way. All we need to do is to show up and throw challenging questions at the speakers.

The first event in the next series, taking place on March 7, displays photos from the 1800s, during the era of colonization. What Lindsay finds interesting about these photos are the implications of bias while these “staged” shots were taken. On March 14, anthropologist Katherine Nichols will expound on the past relationship between Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal academics, and the importance of current collaboration in rebuilding the broken bond.

Similarly, on March 21, Marianne Ignace, director of the First Nations Language Centre at SFU, will describe the efforts she took in re-translating and re-claiming the stories recorded from Secwepemc knowledge keepers (in the late 1800s) that only exist in English renditions. She’ll also talk about the preservation of native languages through modern technological means.

To echo the SFU Office of Aboriginal Peoples’ motto, “Engaging the world,” on March 28, Gretchen Ferguson, an associate director with the Centre for Sustainable Community Development, will present an international perspective on Indigenous entrepreneurship. She highlights the distinct conception of innovation and profit making, and the collective orientation in pursuit of the common good.

The Speaker Series is an invitation for the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal to once again come to the table and start a collaboration, but this time, both as guests. And who better to host than Science — the impartial and truthful Science, helping to rebuild trust and embrace the thirst for knowledge.

The Aboriginal Speaker Series is co-organized by the SFU Indigenous Research Institute and SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, and takes places from March 7 – 28 at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.