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Students’ Union committee to host town hall on Aboriginal student issues

Student opinion will guide the development of recommendations to the SU

The Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Committee (ARRC) will be organizing its first open house to discuss recommendations on how the SU and Students’ Council can improve relations with Aboriginal students.

The open house will provide a platform for ARRC to gather student opinion on over 60 recommendations to be put forth to the SU later this year. These recommendations range from increased Aboriginal student advocacy to operational changes to the SU and Students’ Council that can improve reconciliatory efforts.

The open house is open to all students and will be held on September 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Students’ Union Building 0-51.

Aside from the proposed recommendations, ARRC chair and native studies councillor Nathan Sunday said the event will feature discussions on Aboriginal student issues and how the SU can better connect with the Aboriginal student community.

“We want to get both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to come to the open house,” Sunday said. “[Student consultation] is so important in shaping our recommendations, which will ultimately shape the Students’ Union.”

While Aboriginal student issues are often highlighted during the SU election period, Sunday said many Aboriginal students feel their presence eventually fades into the background once campaign season is over. One of ARRC’s long-term goals is to help ensure Aboriginal student voices are consistently heard and acknowledged.

“[ARRC] is here to help keep the SU and Students’ Council accountable to the promises they make,” Sunday said. “We’re not afraid to push back.”

The recommendations will be split into four themes that address Aboriginal relations. The “advocacy” and “education” themes focus on ensuring Aboriginal voices are heard in student governance and on teaching the campus community about Aboriginal cultures.

The “operational” and “Students’ Council” themes focus on tangible changes that could be made at the governance level to make student politics more accessible to Aboriginal students.

Some recommendations include encouraging the SU to create daycares and other spaces for students who parent, and performing traditional smudging ceremonies at Students’ Council.

While ARRC was formally established in May 2018, Sunday said committee members have already spent over a year actively engaging faculty associations, Aboriginal student groups, and individual students on campus to develop these recommendations.

The committee also contains over 30 students-at-large positions for Aboriginal students who are interested in governance and would like to be more involved in shaping how Aboriginal student issues are addressed on campus.

For those who are interested but are unable to attend the open house, Sunday recommends coming to ARRC meetings, which are open to all students on campus. While the schedule varies, meetings typically happen twice a month at 4 p.m. in SUB 6-06.

“If students would like more engagement, speak to your councillors and come to Students’ Council,” Sunday said. “Make your voice be heard.”

Calvin Chan

Calvin Chan is a cell biology student with a keen interest in science writing.

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