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Living in Place: an Indigenous student’s perspective abroad — Corbett scholar Owen Oliver

Submitted by Kai Wise on November 19, 2019 - 2:59pm
Vancouver coastline view out of bookstore window

I accepted the Corbett scholarship with the idea that I would be learning how to view and develop international methods of decolonizing, re-indigenizing, and reconciling with the intent of bringing these ideas back to Seattle. However, as I have situated myself on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus (UBC), I’ve been fortunate enough to realize what it means to actually live in a place that has already been implementing these ideas every single day. UBC’s campus sits upon the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam band and people. Because of this relationship, UBC has honored Musqueam’s request to create a meaningful collaboration that acknowledges the UBC’s dark history of colonization and provides the opportunity to hold genuine listening communities to ensure the co-ownership of UBC. This allows for space to strive together to create a University that respects Indigenous peoples’ view of land, place, and traditions.

To live in place means to connect with the land in other ways than just physically. Living in place is the idea that you understand the history and significance of a place first. For Indigenous people this is second nature. To an Indigenous person from the United States, walking on UBC’s campus for the first time makes you feel overwhelmed and energetic. These emotions aren’t because the campus is so lush with greenery, or so big you could fit UW’s campus inside it, but because you feel like you’re in a place that has established co-ownership between the Indigenous people of the land and the institution. This co-ownership is based on the little things that add up and result in making you happy to be part of this university. For example: Indigenous art made by Indigenous people of the area; the Musqueam Coast Salish language translated alongside the main street signs; most importantly over 30 Indigenous faculty members contribute to 180 courses with predominantly or additional Indigenous content. To me, this exemplifies what it means to live with the land and in a place.

Find the full article here