Editor’s Note: Pearson College UWC is proud to support to an initiative that could see an Indigenous Protected Area established in this area which would include a 14-hectare College-owned undeveloped property adjoining the main campus. Please check out the full package at this link and take a look at Craig Davis’ speaking notes from the event below.  

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Chief Chipps, Mayor Ranns, Ms. Blake, invited guests, I extend greetings on behalf of Pearson College UWC whose campus is, and always has been, on the traditional territory of the Sc’ianew First Nation.

I am deeply honoured and humbled to be amongst you today.

The collective actions by everyone here to acknowledge and demonstrate respect for the original stewards of this land are powerful and sincere.

The commitment – through the signing of this agreement – that we are announcing today takes us further along the journey of reconciliation.

It takes us, together, into a series of actions that can further our obligations of neighbourly community-building and preservation of this irreplaceable west coast environment.

My colleagues will speak eloquently about the opportunities this Indigenous-led agreement and the potential actions arising from it present both for the people of the Sc’ianew First Nation and for everyone in this region.

For my part, I’d like to answer the question, “Why is Pearson – a global school, involved in this?”

There are many reasons but the easiest one to grasp is simply this – an opportunity to give back as part of our commitment to reconciliation.

Specifically, as part of a proposed Indigenous Protected Area, we would contribute approximately 14 hectares (or 34 acres) of what we call “Pearson Lands” to preserve these ecologically and culturally important lands.

The parcel in question is L-shaped, roughly to the north and west of our campus, including a section of shoreline on Pedder Bay. Our main campus would not be included.

We originally made this commitment back in 2018 and I’m proud today to recommit us to this action with our friends from Sc’ianew, and our fellow supporters from the District of Metchosin and Habitat Acquisition Trust.

I know of no other school that has made a similar commitment to give back land to their Indigenous friends and neighbours.

We’ve been taking a serious look at the role we — as a school that brings students from every corner of the world, including every part of Canada — could play in genuine, meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

After a journey assisted by many, including my trusted colleague Chief Chipps, we unveiled a Reconciliation Action Plan to address past shortcomings and to ensure positive progress and support for Indigenous students and our relationships with Indigenous peoples and communities.

The plan invites us to better understand how our United World College values can better align with the aspirations of Indigenous students and communities.

Today, these include our obligation to be prudent guardians of the land and the waters upon which our students from across the globe learn and live.

Ours is a commitment to a place-based education – understanding that anyone from anywhere has much to learn from the place they are in and the people who have long lived here.

And, in this place, we are privileged that the Indigenous stewards of these lands and waters since time immemorial guide us with their knowledge and wisdom.

Even as we continue to weave Indigenous knowledge and teachings throughout all of our academic and experiential education activities, we are preparing to introduce a new program infused with and led by Indigenous stewardship and knowledge.

The Climate Action Leadership Diploma program – perhaps the first such comprehensive program made available to 16 to 19-year-olds – will incorporate multiple courses based on Indigenous perspectives on the environment.

Forgive me for “evangelizing” a bit, but it is exciting to look forward with optimism and to be here today with so many strong, sincere and forward-thinking colleagues taking action on reconciliation.

I know there is much more to come. Thank you so much.

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