Vancouver Island University (VIU) has appointed Dr. Judith Sayers – the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council – as its new university chancellor.
Along with her presidency, Sayers has been the Chief of the Hupacasath First Nation for 14 years and is described by VIU as “a prominent local Indigenous leader, sustainable development advocate and passionate educator.”
In addition to her leadership roles within First Nation communities, Sayers holds a business and a law degree, as well as an honorary Doctor of Laws, from Queen’s University.
According to release from the university, she practiced law for 18 years in both Alberta and British Columbia, working to protect First Nations rights and title.
“One of the reasons I am attracted to VIU and to this position is how closely the University has worked with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and other Nations,” says Sayers.
“I would like to see those kinds of partnerships continue to grow and flourish. VIU takes its commitment to reconciliation seriously, and I am excited to work with President Dr. Deb Saucier, who is also Indigenous, to continue implementing Indigenous ways of knowing and being.”
Sayers will be following in the footsteps of another lawyer, assuming the role of chancellor from Louise Mandell. VIU states that Mandell is one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous rights lawyers, adding that they are honoured to have Sayers taking over as the next chancellor.
“Dr. Sayers’ accomplishments in advancing Indigenous rights and promoting capacity-building sustainable development projects set an example for our students and community members about what is possible when you put your passion and education to work,” said Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor. “I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Sayers to further advance the Indigenization of VIU and I am excited to watch the inspiring effect she will have on students.”
In her new role, Sayers highlights that she intends to push the boundaries of what a university education entails.
“We need to be more open to working with students to do the kind of research they want to do in their own way,” she says. “So much of Indigenous history has never been written properly. When you see our students going out and exploring these areas, for me, it’s very exciting. We need to tell our own stories.”
Sayers will start in her new position in October 2020 and her term will last for three years.