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Forging a New Path: Amanda Reid Rogers installed as UNB’s first Piluwitahasuwin

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Feb 22, 2019

Category: UNB Fredericton , myUNB , UNB Saint John

Amanda Reid Rogers has been officially installed as Piluwitahasuwin at the University of New Brunswick following a traditional celebration on the Fredericton campus.

Ms. Rogers was announced as UNB’s first Piluwitahasuwin (Assistant Vice-President Indigenous Engagement) in November 2018. Piluwitahasuwin, pronounced BILL-WEE-DUH-HUZZ-WIN, is a Wolastoqey word meaning “one who promotes change in a good way toward truth.”

The traditional celebration, entitled Piluwitahasuwawsuwakon: Forging a New Path, officially installs Ms. Rogers to the position.

“Reflecting on this historic moment for UNB, the installation ceremony is an envisioning exercise for all those involved as well as a sacred commitment to piluwitahasuwawsuwakon,” says Ms. Rogers.

“In Waponahki territory, I have learned from many teachers that each person is born with a gift. This position gives me the opportunity to work meaningfully and collaboratively to reshape the university setting into one where Indigenous students may see it as a place to acquire a higher level of education that nurtures their inherent gifts.”

The installation ceremony is required to maintain traditional Wolastoqey protocol related to sacred responsibilities. The event was held in a long house in the Richard J. CURRIE CENTER and included a sacred pipe ceremony, a water ceremony, dancing and drumming, and the presentation of a wampum.

Ms. Rogers received a Sacred Bundle, a wrapped collection of sacred items. The sacred bundle will be passed on to her successor.

The position of Piluwitahasuwin reports directly to the President’s Office and will promote and expand Indigenous culture and opportunities on UNB campuses and within the community.

“It is truly a momentous occasion to install the first Piluwitahasuwin at the University of New Brunswick,” says Dr. Eddy Campbell, UNB president and vice-chancellor. “As leaders in education, we have important work ahead of us in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. This is a ground-breaking step forward for UNB in its commitment to reconciliation and reconcili-action with Indigenous communities.”

The establishment of the Piluwitahasuwin was identified as a priority in UNB’s Truth and Reconciliation Strategic Action plan, released in March 2018 and recognized as a Sacred Bundle.

Piluwitahasuwin shares roots with piluwitahasuwawsuwakon, a Wolastoqey word that means “allowing your thinking to change so that action will follow in a good way toward truth.”

The position is supported by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour’s Access and Success program, a program intended to support innovative efforts that remove barriers to post-secondary education.

“The Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour’s Access and Success program supports various projects and initiatives to increase the number of under-represented groups in post-secondary education, including Indigenous learners. We are happy to celebrate and welcome the addition of Ms. Rogers and wish her the best of luck in her new role,” says Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder.

Ms. Rogers, RN, is Dakota-Sioux with family and community connections in Wolastokuk. Currently a course instructor and master’s student in nursing, she is using a community-based collaborative participatory action research approach for her thesis that is focused on the experiences of Wolastoqey women who are descendants of survivors of the Indian residential school experience in Canada.

“In order to nurture Indigenous students and their gifts, it is critical for Canadians to understand treaty relationships, as well as respect skicinuwey (Indigenous) ways of learning, knowing, and being. It has always been my firm belief that our Indigenous communities and nations are resilient, vibrant, beautiful, and sovereign,” says Ms. Rogers.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye

Photo: UNB’s Elder-In-Residence Imelda Perley presents the Sacred Bundle and wampum belt to Piluwitahasuwin Amanda Reid Rogers and Dr. Eddy Campbell, UNB president and vice-chancellor.