Aboriginal issues focus of exchange

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University has been selected as the site of an educational exchange program by Fulbright Canada.

Vancouver Island University has been selected as the site of an educational exchange program by Fulbright Canada.

The non-profit foundation, mandated to select scholars in the U.S. and Canada and set them up for academic exchange, selected the university to host a visiting research chairperson in aboriginal studies based on the university’s work related to the effect of residential schools and its support of aboriginal education.

Michael Hawes, Fulbright Canada CEO, said a faculty member from a U.S. post-secondary institution will be selected, via an application process, and will spend a semester at the university engaging the community.

“The idea is they would interact with students, they would give lectures, they would teach classes, they would engage with the community, but we’re also hoping this is an opportunity to develop long-term institutional partnerships between VIU and some American universities who are doing similar things.”

Ralph Nilson, VIU president, said it will provide an opportunity for recognition of the importance of the First Nations issues on the national agenda.

“When we think about nation building and we think about the aboriginal agenda, as it relates to title and rights, it’s such an incredibly important public policy issue in our nation,” said Nilson. “This is going to provide us another opportunity to be engaged.”

Nilson said the program will initially run for five years, beginning summer or fall semester 2017. The university won’t have to spend money on the position, he said.

“What will end up happening, we will be identifying a donor who will help support this and move forward, so we’ll be looking for partnerships that’ll help us move this forward,” said Nilson.

Nanaimo News Bulletin