Credit to Author: Gordon McIntyre| Date: Sun, 12 Jan 2020 22:43:17 +0000
Capilano University sits on unceded Squamish and Tsleil Waututh territory on the forested slopes of North Vancouver, the school’s walls and grounds festooned with Coast Salish art, so it’s fitting it now has its first director of Indigenous education and affairs.
Miranda Huron started her new job last week, returning to B.C. after helping Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, become federal law last summer in her role with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
With B.C. having just become the first province to implement the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP), it’s an exciting time to take up the position, Huron, who is Anishinaabe, said.
“To be working at this institution in this new era is amazing,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity, a great time to be here.
“Having learned so much from the AFN, having heard from chiefs across the country with their priorities, especially regarding post-secondary, bringing that here and getting to form new relationships with the five nations from Cap U, to have full partnerships and full understanding of what it means to be a good partner going forward.”
Huron, 41, said she’ll use the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls-to-action, the call to justice in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls investigation, and UNDRIP as guideposts to navigate the path to developing mutual respect and inclusion on campus.
That includes curriculum, staffing, more Indigenous students.
“Every step of the way,” she said. “We’re right on Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territory, for them to be able to come here … the student success rate when being able to be closer to home is amazing, so it would be lovely for us to be their first choice and to provide responsive curriculum for their needs.”
It was a winding path that brought her back to B.C.
A trip to Vancouver as a 13-year-old convinced Huron she wanted to live here, leading to undergraduate and Master’s degrees from UBC.
She has two decades experience at post-secondary institutions, including manager of Ch’nook Indigenous business education at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, and stints at Emily Carr and Algonquin College.
Having moved all over Ontario as a child — “My mother was a bit of a hippy” — Huron herself moved around the globe, surfing in Australia, cycling 6,000 kilometres across Canada, 5,700 kilometres in Russia from Vladivostok to Novosibirsk before her bike broke down, and 10,000 kilometres in Africa from Cairo to Cape Town.
It helps that she speaks about a dozen languages.
“It’s been sort of work-work, travel-travel,” she said.
Her position was created, the president of Cap U said, as an important next step to further deepen the university’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls-to-action and UNDRIP.
“Universities have an essential role to play in reconciliation,” Paul Dangerfield said.
Capilano’s First Nations student services centre, Kéxwusm-áyakn (Squamish for “a place to meet”) opened in 2013.
The university itself is named after Chief Joe Capilano, also known as Joe Mathias or Sa7plek (Sahp-luk), who stood up for Indigenous rights and culture as a Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) leader from 1895 to his death in 1910.
Huron can’t wait to roll up her sleeves, can’t wait to start the process of inclusion for the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Lil’wat and Sechelt (shíshálh) Nations.
“What I’m learning is there are a lot of people here who are keen to take this on,” Huron said. “To really move projects forward that have been waiting in the wings, ideas that have been talked about for a lot of years that need impetus.”