A ceremony was held on Feb. 22 at the Currie Centre to officially install Amanda Reid Rogers as Piluwitahasuwin (Assistant Vice-President of Indigenous Engagement) of the University of New Brunswick. President Eddy Campbell was in attendance alongside Wolastoqey Grand Chief Ron Tremblay, elder-in-residence at Imelda Perley, and many local politicians and citizens. In the words of Rogers, the ceremony was “an envisioning exercise for everyone involved as well as a sacred commitment” to forging a new and truthful path to real reconciliation.
Rogers position has been created to combat the educational attainment gap that exists between minority and white students. Greg Thompson, minister of intergovernmental affairs, said Rogers will work toward minimizing this disparity by expanding content and advising recruitment teams. The hope is that by increasing Indigenous representation in the academic curriculum and visibility, UNB will become a more welcoming and authentically diverse space. Or, as Rogers puts it, to reshape the university into a place where Indigenous students can “acquire a higher level of education that nurtures their inherent gifts.”
The ceremony was set up in the form of a longhouse with the men seated on one side of the room and women seated on the other. Everyone in attendance took part in a water and pipe ceremony. There was also a sacred bundle dedicated and gifted to Rogers which contains a number of items, from a wampum belt to moccasins, that will be displayed on campus. This display is meant to demonstrate the commitment of UNB and the Indigenous community in moving forward together to combat educational inequality and cultural ignorance.