A Letter of Agreement between Vancouver Island University and the VIU Faculty Association was signed on February 26, 2015 to properly honour the important and distinctive role the Elders-in-Residence hold in the University’s community. The first of its kind in British Columbia post-secondary institutions, this agreement is the result of a commitment outlined in VIU’s Academic Plan to “formalize the role of the First Nations Advisory Committee and Elders, and recognize the knowledge they embody.” David Witty, Provost and Vice-President Academic, was a driving force behind the process that led to this important agreement.
Elders-in-Residence were first hired by VIU in the mid-1990s. Today, there are eight Elders who work at each of VIU’s three campuses. As their roles at VIU evolved, it became clear that the employee scales did not have a category that appropriately reflected the value of the Elders’ unique education, their specialized knowledge, and their contributions to the VIU community.
The new Letter of Agreement addresses this issue by creating a new classification of employment for the Elders-in-Residence, one that formally recognizes them as “gifted faculty who provide a unique and highly regarded knowledge contribution to VIU and the VIU community.”
To recognize the significance of this agreement and the work of those involved in the process, a formal signing ceremony will take place in the coming months.
Thank you to David Witty, Steve Lane, Sharon Hobenshield, Gara Pruesse, Dominique Roelants, Marni Stanley, Neil McLeod, Janine Reed, Mark Webster and VIU’s Elders-in-Residence for their work in supporting the process that resulted in this important Letter of Agreement.
Sincerely, Ralph Nilson, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Vancouver Island University