Our hearts will continue beating: Reflections on Claiming Space by Crystal Smith de Molina

Our hearts will continue beating


Let me take you on a tour

Over there is our ancestors from the North

There…. Our ancestors from the South

If you walk this way…our ancestors from the East

And here are our ancestors for the West


If you are silent

You can still hear their hearts beating

They are now immortal

“Reminders of a distant past”…

That just happened yesterday

Some 50 years ago

And the majority are the fruit of theft 100 or so years ago


Living breathing beings…

Sometimes, my beings hurts

Hurts to see life without death


Museums should be translated that way

Museums mean: life without death


Though our ancestors will never rest

We are Claiming Space

Our people are still living breathing beings

And we are taking over museums

Exhibit by exhibit


No longer will the voices

Of our ancestors stand alone

We will shake the walls of colonialism

With our art

With our words

With our power

The kind of power that cannot be bought



Let me take you on a tour

Over there is our ancestors from the North

There…. Our ancestors from the South

If you walk this way…our ancestors from the East

And here are our ancestors for the West


And we are here

An Indigenous population

Alive and thriving


Creating our art to confuse

Creating our art to confide

Creating our art to confront

Creating art in new ways

Creating art in old ways

Creating in a mix of ways


And if you are silent

You can hear our hearts beating

If you won’t be silent

Our hearts will continue beating


FNSSA Meets Richard Wagamese


The First Nation Studies Students Association along with the UBC Graduate School of Journalism had the pleasure of meeting with celebrated Ojibway journalist and writer, Richard Wagemese. Richard spoke to us about storytelling and his journey as a journalist. His accounts were both profound and insightful with just the right amount of humour; the marks of a truly gifted orator and storyteller. Thank you to Richard for taking the time to speak with us and to UBC Journalism for hosting the event.

Richard was in Vancouver to speak at the Vancouver Writer’s Fest with Thomas King and Lee Maracle.


The Invisible Sun by Crystal Smith de Molina

The Invisible Sun


Walking as ghosts

Talking as mutes

Looked through like an endless prairie

We are Indigenous woman

The ones who are not seen

The ones who are not heard

The ones invisible

We work hard

We live

We breathe and eat

We are women

We are human

The sun

The invisible sun

The star up in the sky

They choose not to look at

Are incapable of hearing the power it lashes out

We are Indigenous woman

The ones who are not seen

The ones who are not heard

The ones invisible

We are like the sun

We hold a power

A power that is chosen not to be seen

A power unheard of

A power that burns if neglected

We are Indigenous woman

The ones who will be seen

Ones who will be heard

Ones who will bring light to their darkness

Message from the President

Hey there, Matthew Ward here, incoming President of FNSSA and also UBC’s unofficial resident pizza-lover. I am from Driftpile Cree Nation in Northern Alberta and am going into my…5th (ugh) year here at UBC and have been involved with the First Nations Studies Program (yay!) for 2 years. During this time, I’ve done a lot of learning, and with that, a lot of growing.

I’ve had to take seriously questions surrounding my identity; my Cree father and white mother, and the critical identity politics that surround being a full-status, yet mixed-identity Indigenous person. I’ve had to confront my queer identity, as a gay man, and how that positions me within my school, Vancouver, my family, my community (Driftpile Cree Nation), my hometown (Slave Lake, Alberta), my relationships, my language, and my culture. It seems hard to believe that I’ve only been involved with FNSSA for a year and a half, and in that time have been able to contribute to the community through supporting the fantastic projects that have come to life through this student group; from the journal (coming soon!) to the blog (where you’re reading this!). From our fantastic member-appreciation events (Double DD Pizza anyone?) to the successful fundraisers (like the $1200 raised this past Spring!). None of this would have been possible without the support of our team, and the community we have built. Our support for one another is matched only by our accountability to each other. With FNSSA, I’ve been given the opportunity to explore my identity and ask difficult questions around people that, not only genuinely care, but are experiencing these life changing (and often crisis-inducing) questions too!

As a club, we operate so closely in our personal lives, our academic lives, and our extracurricular activities that we get comfortable sitting together, walking together, spending every waking moment together (kidding, but only a little). I’m here to tell you that you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about if you are wanting to get involved with our tight group! FNSSA is an inclusive community that values all of its members, new and old, and the wonderful contributions they make! What made becoming a part of FNSSA so easy is that I didn’t need to know everything about myself or the world, I didn’t need to be able to explain how I live decolonization through my life, and I definitely didn’t need to be Indigenous (though I am). What mattered to this group of people was that I supported the work we felt was right, ensured everything we did was rooted in giving back to the community, and to make sure we held each other accountable to our actions. It is through these values that I’ve lived the last 3 years of my life at UBC, and it is these values that I give credit to for the many successes our student club and its fantastic members have achieved. This club has supported me at my highs and lows, and has been a contributing factor in my decision to continue my studies in academia. As one of many leaders in FNSSA, I want to ensure that this space, this club, continues to offer that to FNSP students, UBC students, Indigenous peoples, and non-Indigenous peoples. All it took was for me to show up at a meeting where I didn’t know a single person (which happened to be the first meeting for the journal) and 1.5 years later, here I am among many others, working to better our communities, challenging each other, growing, and having fun along the way.

It is my hope that through this post, you will see just how amazing FNSSA has been; a highlight of my experience here at the University of British Columbia, and I want you all to be a part of it. FNSSA is always looking for fun, passionate, and excited people to take on a multitude of projects. Among those already stated, we’ve presented at conferences (F-Word, Student Leadership Conference), we’ve facilitated workshops, and we manage online content through our blog and a social media presence on Facebook. We’ve engaged multiple levels of community organizations, faculties, and student groups in dialogue around Indigenous issues on and off campus. We’ve got a number of upcoming projects in the works too AND we host really fun parties so we can get our groove on!

All this and more could be yours, and I sincerely hope you get to experience what I’ve had the opportunity to experience being a part of this fantastic student club. If you’re interested in getting involved, like us on Facebook to find out when our meetings are, send an email to fnssa.ubc@gmail.com. As an alternative, you can contact me personally at mattward.ubc@gmail.com.

I look forward to (hopefully) getting a chance to know you!

Many thanks, and keep it real,

Matt Ward

Call Out for Blog Editors and Contributors

Hello to the FNSSA Community! 

We hope that you are all enjoying your summers! The FNSSA’s Blog team is currently looking for 2 assistant editors to help in maintaining and uploading content to our Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Blog! You’ll handle submissions coming in from students that will be uploaded to the site, and maintain News, Events, and Contact ages. While experience in blogging/web production/design and social media are assets, they are not mandatory. We’re just looking for a couple of cool people interested in helping out for a couple hours a week throughout the year. This is a great opportunity for students hoping to get involved but aren’t sure how. If you’re interested in getting involved and would like more details, email isujblogeditors@gmail.com or annamarymck@gmail.com, or send a message to the FNSSA Facebook Page. You do not have to be a current member or First Nations Studies Student to be considered.


You get to hang out with some of the coolest people on campus! You will be up and up on all the latest happenings within the UBC Indigenous community! You’ll gain practical skills! Did I mention you get to hang out with really really cool people? Plus you’ll become a member of (one of) the best club(s) on campus!


FNSSA Elections & Call for New Members

Interested in getting involved on campus and being a part of an exciting student community?

The First Nation Studies Student’s Association will be holding general elections at the beginning of March 2014. We would like to invite any new or interested students to attend our general meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4th at the UBC Global Lounge to get to know current FNSSA members and learn about new and upcoming events and opportunities. Membership for the 2014/2015 session of FNSSA is $5.00. Throughout the academic year, we meet on Tuesdays at 6:30 to discuss current events and opportunities on and off campus. FNSSA is very engaged with the First Nation Studies Program as well as with many other clubs and organizations within the UBC community.

Please LIKE our Facebook page for more information on current events or email us at fnssa.ubc@gmail.com

Click her for the link to the Facebook Event Page


Happy New Year!

From all members of the First Nations Studies Student Association, the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal, and here at the blog, we hope your New Year is off to a great start, and we would love to share it with you! Check out some of the information below to see how to see how you can get involved.

2014 Student Leadership Conference

On January 11th, blog members Anna McKenzie and Matt Ward will be doing a highlighted project presentation at the 2014 Student Leadership Conference on their processes and experiences as contributing members to the Journal and Blog projects throughout the past year and offer their own advice and experiences when it comes to becoming student leaders. Be sure to register soon, as entry is limited! Register here!

FNSP Courses

Still looking for a course that will squeeze into your schedule? Look no further! Check out course descriptions of some very informative courses being offered by the First Nations Studies Program here at UBC! Space is limited so be sure to do so quickly here.

FNSSA Facebook Page

To keep up to date with upcoming events, meetings, and important conversations happening in and around the UBC and Vancouver community, be sure to like FNSSA’s Facebook page.

Blog Submissions Open (As Always)

As per usual, the blog is always accepting creative, academic, and intersectional approaches to Indigenous issues and we would love to hear from you! If you think you have some content that would look great on the website, just send us an email with your content attached and you could be featured! Send your work to  isujblogeditors@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to!

To conclude, we would like to wish you all the best in the upcoming second semester, and hope to see you around campus at one of our events! If you’d like more information on how to get involved, don’t hesitate to email us here on the blog, or contact us through our Facebook page!

Happy New Year!

Student Leadership Conference: Highlighted Projects Event

The Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal and Blog, xʷnaʔələmxʷ sχəχi:ls, has been selected to present as a Highlighted Project at this years 2014 Student Leadership Conference under the working title, Shifting Stories and Mending Misconceptions alongside PUNK (Promoting Understanding of North Korea). Blog-editors Matthew Ward and Anna McKenzie will be speaking about how this project has come to be through the hard work and leadership skills of FNSSA members, while incorporating their own personal story and development. More information about how to register for the conference on January 11th, 2014 will be posted as made available. FNSSA is excited to be bringing Indigenous voices and perspectives to a new venue, engaging over 1000 delegates composed of students, faculty, staff, and visiting community members! We hope to see you there in the New Year!

To keep updated with the latest, please check out the First Nations Studies Student Association’s new Facebook page!

The Story Behind Our Name, xʷnaʔələmxʷ sχəχi:ls

The Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal and Blog decided that it would be appropriate to approach Elder Larry Grant and the Musqueam Language & Culture Program to gift our journal and blog a meaningful name. Our mandate is to create a space for Musqueam language as we are guests on the unceded and ancestral territory of the hən’q’əmin’əm speaking Musqueam First Nation. We would like to thank the Musqueam First Nation for hosting us as students on their traditional territory and for allowing us to do this important work. A resurgence of language, protocol and recognition is very important to the First Nation Studies Student Association in terms of decolonizing the way we think and the spaces we live and work in.

Our Journal and Blogs is named xʷnaʔələmxʷ sχəχi:ls, meaning “first peoples writing” in hən’q’əmin’əm’, the language of the Musqueam First Nation whose land UBC is situated on. We would also like to thank Elder Larry Grant and the Musqueam Language & Culture Program for gifting the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal with our name.