Will Trade

This past Sunday, I attended the Elders Craft Fair at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. My shopping list included smoked salmon, beaded earrings, and hopefully (fingers crossed!) some bannock. The gymnasium was full of tables with Kookum’s and Mushum’s selling their wares; deer hide roses, cedar weaved baskets and jewelry, stunning beaded creations, carvings and gorgeous Cowichan sweaters, bags and hats (take that Aritzia). My shopping list was successfully fulfilled by the end of the morning, however the most memorable part of my Elders Craft Fair experience was a small sign at a table that read “Will Trade”.

I immediately thought of the system of trade that had been unintentionally set up between a small community of Indigenous students on UBC campus. Last year, I was gifted a large amount of moose meat. Upon preparing it in a slow-cooker for eight hours, I gifted the majority of it to friends that I knew would appreciate its origins as a Moose that had been tracked by hunters who understood the importance of respectively hunting and harvesting an animal. The following weeks, I was gifted Elk sausage, more Moose meat, Deer, and Salmon. This system of trade has persisted and I am reminded of the resurgence of the Potlatch System, where our economies were supported by giving and not consuming. I could have easily consumed that Moose all to myself, but my sending it out into a community of loved ones, I was gifted a diverse and rich amount of meat and friendship. The Elders sign signified an intelligible and community oriented way of accumulating wealth: through building relations and giving for the purpose of trade. I cannot imagine a more powerful form of community oriented and anti-capitalist, grassroots resurgence.

Reflections on “Decolonizing the Language Revitalization Process” by Katherine Carey

Tonight I attended a lecture on “Decolonizing the Language Revitalization Process” given by April Charlo (Bitterroot Salish people) and Khelsilem Rivers (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw). There were two points that I found particularly earthshattering. One was that there is no word for sorry in Salish. Apology, regret, and a hope to make it better are not something that you can express in a single word. The concept is much bigger than a single word in the Salish dialect that April speaks and it is something that you have to express in your actions, words, thought and in the impact that it has on another person. What came to mind for me was how Beverley Jacobs responded to the Prime Minister’s apology “What is it this government is going to do in the future to help our people?” How valuable is a word like sorry without all those other expressions behind it? What would an apology from Stephen Harper on behalf of the Government of Canada look like, feel like, sound like if there was no word for sorry?

It is easy for me to tell Stephen Harper he should embody what he talks about, but Klhesilem River said something that made it harder for me to just do that. He was talking about the difference between linguistics and revitalization, where one is the study of a language, which is not focused on creating a healthy community of fluent speakers. Linguistics is learning about a language, not learning a language itself, and yet our language classes are often focused on learning the suffixes and the pronouns and the verbs and all the other parts of the language, or on the translation of words in one language into another, and not on the actual practice of speaking the language. I was feeling really great after the lecture, like I had learnt a lot. And then on processing a bit, it hit me then that in studying decolonization or reconciliation as I am often in First Nations Studies, I am not (necessarily) practicing decolonization, maybe at all. This is a challenging thing for me to face, because FNSP feels lovely and safe, and I feel pretty confident in my ability to discuss decolonization and reconciliation. How can I begin?

By Katherine Carey, a fifth year First Nations Studies student who grew up on the unceded territory of the Bantu people and the Coast Salish people. She has worked for various women’s centres in Vancouver, and is currently completing a practicum for the First Nations Health Authority. This reflective piece was written after she had attended the event on September 25th, 2013 at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

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.


Welcome Back

Dear Students, Teachers and Friends,

Welcome to a new year and a new start to the First Nation Studies Undergraduate Blog. Already a fall chill is upon us and assignments are due! We would like to extend a welcome to and a welcome back to our blog, which acts as a space for First Nation Studies students and other related fields to post their work in a safe and open space. This blog is the informal partner to the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal and allows for a variety of work to be contributed. We also like to stay connected to the UBC and greater Vancouver area community through our events page. This September, there has been a surplus of events surrounding the arrival of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As many of you know, all undergraduate classes at the University of British Columbia were cancelled in order for students to participate in the opening of the TRC at the PNE. Within many of our First Nation Studies courses, the theme of “reconciliation” has been very prevalent. We encourage an ongoing dialogue around the theme of reconciliation as an on-going process.

If you are interested in submitting a piece, email us at isujblogeditors@gmail.com

‘The Raven’ and FNSP 433A

Hey guys! There have been a few updates in the past few weeks. First off, the First Nations Studies Program, have announced their new newsletter, ‘The Raven’. Thanks to the hardwork of Erica Baker, Dr. Daniel Justice, Shelley Long, and Kathy Moyou, students now have a bi-annual newsletter that features the on-goings of First Nations Studies Program students and staff. The newsletter can be accessed on the FNSP website and in the blog’s gallery, and happens to feature a section on the ISUJ Blog you’re currently reading! Check it out and get aquainted with what we’ve been up to!

Secondly, a new FNSP student directed seminar course is now being offered in the 2013 academic year. FNSP 433A: The Politics of Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation in Canada will be exploring the topic of reconciliation in relation to Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This course is coinciding with the Vancouver National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is happening September 18th-21st, and also with the City of Vancouver’s official ‘Year of Reconciliation’. For more information on this course, click here to be directed to FNSP’s course listings and register today!

Finally, an update from the Journal team is that all submissions have been collected, and they are currently reviewing materials sent in. We look forward to announcing upcoming welcoming events for the new academic year in the Fall, along with an announcement on the release of the Indigenous Studies Undergraduate Journal.

Happy Summer Days!

Journal Submissions CLOSED

As of June 14th, 2013, submissions have officially closed. We thank everyone who submitted their work, and the journal team looks forward to reading and reviewing all the great work that has come in. For those anxiously awaiting their copy of the the journal, we have high hopes to have something available come Fall 2013. Keep checking back for more details on the journal, and for upcoming work being posted on the blog!

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer!

– Matt

Journal Submission Date EXTENDED

The call for submissions to xʷnaʔələmxʷ sχəχi:ls has been EXTENDED TO JUNE 14th, 2013. Accepting essays, stories, poems, and visual artwork. If you have something that exists outside these realms, feel free to contact us here at the blog, or the journal team in the Contact Us tab. Check the Submissions criteria in the menu bar as well for any other information you may require. We look forward toseeing your work published in our brand-spankin’ new journal!


– ISUJ Blog Team

Looking for Submissions!


My name is Matthew Ward, currently going into my 4th year of studies at UBC in both Political Science and First Nations Studies. As you may or may not know, I am one of the blog editors here. The team and I have been taking time to relax after bringing this blog and the coupling journal to life. Now that we’ve settled into our summer lifestyles, we’re ready to start accepting and reviewing materials to be posted on the blog! This is open to everyone (students, faculty, citizens from anywhere and everywhere!) and we will accept almost any format of submission! Feel free to share the current submissions and get inspired to share something with us!

Remember, send submissions to isujblogeditors@gmail.com in order to be considered, and check out the ‘Submit Your Work’ button above!

Ekosi maka,

Matt Ward