Vancouver Community College (VCC) is pleased to announce that Jessie Williams will be joining the college as VCC’s Dean, Indigenous Initiatives.
Jessie is a citizen of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). A grandmother, mother, auntie, and sister, she leans on the wisdom gained from her lived experience, educational attainment, professional practice, and elder teachings to inform her passion for being a relationship holder and a connector. A word from the Squamish language that guides her journey is Nch’ú7mut, which means to be one, to be in unity.
“We are humbled to have someone of Jessie’s knowledge and experience join our team,” says Jane Shin, Vice President, Students and Community Development. “VCC is on a journey towards truth and reconciliation, decolonization, and Indigenization. Ensuring Indigenous perspectives and ways are acknowledged, recognized, and elevated in how we teach and learn is an important step in this journey. We’re fortunate to have Jessie helping guide the college through this process.”
Jessie has 15 years of experience focused on partnership development, with 10 years focused on providing educational leadership in K-12 and post-secondary contexts, in Indigenous and non-Indigenous environments. Having previously served as the Director of Indigenous Relations at Simon Fraser University, and Manager of Education for her Nation, she comes with extensive experience in building and delivering Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation efforts.
Through VCC’s Indigenous Education and Community Engagement (IECE) department, the college is dedicated to creating a safe and empowering environment for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis learners. The department includes Indigenous Elders, Indigenous Engagement Advisors, and Gathering Spaces at both the Downtown and Broadway campuses. Under Jessie’s leadership, the college reaffirms its commitment to truth and reconciliation and support for its fast-growing population of urban Indigenous learners.
“Right now, there is a need for open-heart and open-mind dialogue that promotes new knowledge and understandings to advance educational goals and objectives for collective health and well-being,” says Jessie. “I am grateful to join the VCC community and understand this is a great honor and responsibility. I will ground my practice in weaving together education, leadership, collaboration, and relationships.”
A welcoming ceremony with the college community is being planned for Jessie when she begins in July. The ceremony will be organized in partnership with the Indigenous Education and Community Engagement department and in consideration of Squamish Nation traditions.