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Traditional blanket ceremony welcomes Indigenous leaders into roles at VCC

Posted on September 20, 2023

Indigenous leaders blanket ceremony

Jessie Williams (left), Dean of Indigenous Initiatives and David Kirk (right), Dean of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

In a formal ceremony following the traditions of the Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) nation, Vancouver Community College (VCC) was honoured to induct newly appointed Indigenous leaders Jessie Williams and David Kirk to their respective roles as Dean, Indigenous Initiatives, and Dean, Curriculum and Pedagogy in the presence of family, friends, and the community on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Broadway campus event space.  

Led by cultural knowledge keepers, drummers, and singers, the ceremony opened with speaker Swo-wo Gabriel addressing witnesses from the crowd and encouraging attendees to share their learnings from the afternoon with the wider community.

Honourees Jessie and David wore a blanket and head band representing the warmth, love, and wisdom from family and friends wishing them well on their journey as newly established leaders in post-secondary. As per tradition, cedar brushers cleansed the honourees so they can begin their new roles with fresh and clean energy.

"It's truly amazing to see Jessie and David step into these roles to bring new life and new lessons to the college," says Eddy Gooch, fourth-year Indigenous nursing student and ambassador with VCC's Indigenous Education and Community Engagement department. "Students like me will benefit greatly from having strong role models representing the knowledge of our people."

This event represents an important part of VCC's commitment to Indigenization, decolonization, and integrating cultural ways of being, seeing, and doing at the institution.

"Jessie and David bring with them a connection to the land we live on, the people we work with, and the knowledge to move us forward," said Ajay Patel, VCC president and CEO. "This is truly a fresh start for VCC and the beginning of a transformation."

VCC would like to thank the Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish) nation for the work that was put into the ceremony, including floor managers Adrienne Charlie and Elizabeth Ross, witness responders Chief Victor Harry, Elder Deanna George, Maurice Nahanee, Faye Mitchell, Eddy Gooch, and Ajay Patel, and all those in attendance today.

Learn more about how to get involved with the Indigenous Education and Community Engagement department at VCC.