Through the Network, we often talk about the interconnectedness of our teaching and learning, and how important it is to work together toward our collective vision of every learner crossing the stage with dignity, purpose and options. We share our moments of struggle and our moments of success, and together, we weave a story of a shared commitment to this ongoing work. We all know that this is not easy work, so our story building is a way of renewing our energy and commitment to moving forward.
That’s why it’s exciting to share this story – one that Dempsey Bob, acclaimed Tahltan-Tlingit artist, Officer of the Order of Canada, and recent UBC honorary degree recipient, described so aptly as a “magnificent struggle.” Just a few weeks ago, 33 UBC Aboriginal Graduates from the 2013/2014 school year walked through the graduation door of the First Nations Long House at the Vancouver campus. In his keynote address, Dr. Dempsey Bob congratulated the graduates and recognized the stress, discipline, and commitment needed to get to this point in their journey. He also spoke to the potential of education, and the need to continue to be diligent as we move forward:
“Because education to us has always been negative because of the residential school, what happen there. But now we have to turn it around because that’s what going to be our power in the future — the education. That’s what’s going to make our people better. That’s what’s going to lift our people up. But don’t forget about our culture. Don’t forget about our values. Don’t forget about our people. Don’t forget about our land.”
“I remember my first day at the Longhouse, searching for somewhere I might fit in. I was worried that maybe this wouldn’t be the place for me. Maybe everyone would be smarter than me, older than me, more native than me. But the moment I stepped through those doors, all those worries went away and I knew this place I would soon call my home. I was greeted with smiles and the offer of food, the two things that seem readily available here.”