Liberal Arts as a a platform towards Reconciliation

As part of the #CareerStoryHacks, we are thrilled to share one of the winner stories at the UFV Arts blog!

Written by English student Danaye Reinhardt, this story talks about Natalia*, a double-major History and Psychology grad from UBC who uses her Liberal Arts skills to build a platform towards Reconciliation in her work with Indigenous communities across British Columbia:

Natalia* works for a Utility company in the Indigenous Relations Department, and she credits her Liberal Arts education to where she is today.  

When company projects take place within Indigenous nations, she looks at what will work best for the Indigenous community while maintaining the project goals. She helps put together the actions, budget, and timeline needed for the project.  

“Then we present it to the nation, often with different alternatives, and we work with the nation to determine what their preferences are and what their participation in that project could be,” she said.  

Working with Indigenous communities allows her to build a platform towards reconciliation through creative thinking and relational skills—tools she gained through her double major in Psychology and History at UBC.  

“I remember one of my professors telling me that the reason we study Psychology is to learn to be empathetic towards other human beings,” she said, “which is something that’s just stuck with me.” Studying Psychology helped her understand people’s past experiences and their mental and physical health—which in turn helped her gain empathy towards others.  

This feeds directly into her work with Indigenous groups, and it also ties to her History major. Her studies focused on colonial history and British Columbian history.  

In her job, Natalia acts as a liaison between her company and the Indigenous communities, making sure that both parties are satisfied. Communication and critical thinking are vital. She likens it to the skills one gains from debate. There’s a way of framing it, she said, in a way that is truthful and acceptable to both parties.  

When she was in university a decade ago, she felt that she couldn’t do much with an arts degree. For Natalia, however, it was important to choose an education path that she cared about, rather than what she felt she should take. “Now the terrain is totally changing,” she said. “People are finding more creative ways to use their knowledge or use things they’re passionate about and actually make a difference.” 

When she graduated, Natalia was fortunate to have a friend who worked for the utilities company. She started in the company by giving company presentations to schools and strategically worked her way up to where she is today.  

Her job isn’t always easy. It can be challenging and humbling, especially when she doesn’t have an answer to a problem. “It’s constant problem-solving. It’s constant critical thinking. You’re working with real people; there’s not any formula to that.” 

One of the best parts of her job? “Seeing how I’ve been able to take what I have learned in university and apply it,” she said. “I feel well equipped to do the things that I do because I feel like my degree gave me a good foundation for that.” 

*Name changed. Due to the nature of her work, she cannot disclose her real name or the company name.  

 

How can students use their voice to advocate for changes and create social impact?

Encouraging and promoting changes is an essential part of the Liberal Arts. The critical thinking that comes with the classroom, along with living experiences, can become a game-changer when advocating for changes within your community.

Today, we would like to use this blog as an open space for the Advocates for Change group. Advocates for Change is a student-led movement at UFV focused on building a community where cultural diversity and difference are not only discussed and celebrated but critically examined.

As part of this group, the Psychology student, Ella Halladin, is leading a project to vocalize changes in the Fairy Creek region in British Columbia. On this guest blog, Ella will walk us through the details about the situation in that region as well as ways you can support the cause:

“Less than 2.7% of the ancient temperate rainforest remains in British Columbia. These old-growth trees help the environment in many ways, preventing land erosion that causes landslides, preventing carbon from being released into the atmosphere, regulating water flow to prevent droughts and floods, and providing homes to millions of species both above and below ground.

These trees hold deep spiritual and emotional meaning for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and they are being logged through unsustainable, destructive methods. This logging is being carried out on unceded Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory, where Indigenous land defenders and non-Indigenous supporters have been peacefully protesting the logging of these old-growth trees to help save the surviving trees since August of 2020.

This Indigenous-led peaceful protest has been met with police violence. When extracting blockaders, police often target IBPOC first, resorting to excessive use of force and using aggressive tactics to remove and arrest IBPOC blockaders. Police have been seen displaying the “thin blue line” patch signifying “blue lives matter”, which has become a symbol of white supremacy. Police have been using dangerous extraction methods (heavy machinery, jackhammers, and angle grinders) often putting blockader’s personal safety at risk.

This movement aims to hold the BC government accountable for protecting the last of our ancient forests both across the Fairy Creek region and the rest of the province and to support the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht Nations in achieving sovereign control over their ancestral lands within their own traditional systems of governance. As well, this movement is not anti-logging, but aims to see the implementation of non-destructive logging practices instead of the logging of original forest or irreparable damage to forest ecosystems.

As part of the Advocates for Change group, I am working to raise awareness for the Fairy Creek Blockade. It is an anti-racism and anti-climate change issue. We will be raising support and directing those who would like to donate to fundraisers for supplies, food and legal support for the volunteers defending the old growth. I have attached those links. I appreciate your time and your support. If this is the first time you are hearing about the Fairy Creek Blockade, I encourage you to look into it.”

Click here to learn more about the Fairy Creek Blockade.

Help support this cause:

 

Urgent Updates – November 18, 2021

Dear College of Arts faculty and staff,

Our office will be using this channel to communicate directly with all faculty members (permanent and sessional) and staff in the College of Arts about academic matters related to the flood as the situation continues to evolve.

We will also be communicating via the College of Arts website and social media @UFVArts.

For UFV-wide information, please visit UFV Urgent News and see emails from “UFV Info”. You can also sign-up for emergency notifications from UFV to your phone via text, email and voice message.

If you have questions or comments, please send them to Lisa.Matty@ufv.ca. She will redirect as appropriate and one of us, or your Department Head/School Director, will get back to you.

Latest updates as of November 18, 2021 – 9 AM

  • All classes – face-to-face and virtual – are CANCELLED for the remainder of this week (Wed. Nov. 17, Thurs. Nov. 18, and Fri. Nov. 19). All activities and events scheduled for these days are cancelled. Exams scheduled over these dates are postponed and will be rescheduled.
  • All assignments are to be paused this week (until Monday, November 22, at the earliest). This includes online quizzes and all other forms of assignments. Please remember that some students have been evacuated and/or do not have power or internet connectivity.
  • PASS system now monitored over the weekend with added options (“safety risk” and “situational”) in relation to the current situation: Please continue to refer students to PASS as needed. PASS will be monitored on the weekend until further notice. Referral categories have been added to address the current situation. Click here to access PASS.
  • UFV campuses in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission are safe and buildings remain open to faculty, staff, and students with very limited in-person services on campus including:
      • Libraries at the Chilliwack and Abbotsford campuses – open 8:30am to 6pm
      • Office of the Registrar front counter, Abbotsford and Chilliwack – open 9am to 4pm
      • Until further notice, building hours in Abbotsford and Chilliwack are from 7 am to 6 pm. Mission hours remain 8 am to 4 pm.
  • Food services will not be available.
  • The SUS Campus Connector shuttle bus will not be in service.
  • All other campus services will continue to be offered online until further notice.

 

Ways to Get Involved on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Orange Flowers from the Shakespeare Reconciliation Garden at the Chilliwack Campus

As September 30 marks the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we would like to invite you to don your orange shirt and take some time today (and every day) to reflect on the legacy of residential schools and their impacts on Indigenous communities across Canada.

To immerse ourselves into the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation and honour the contributions that Indigenous peoples have made – and continue to make – in our community, we would like to share with you some ways to get involved:

Wear Orange:
As September 30 marks the Orange Shirt Day, we encourage you to wear orange to raise awareness of the legacy of residential schools and to honour the survivors and the families of those who never returned home. Visit the Orange Shirt Day Society website to learn more.

Attend an event:
A series of events will be held both in-person and online. Take some time to attend one of the events held by Indigenous people and educate yourself about their story and the legacy of Residential Schools.

Listen to Indigenous stories:

Explore Online Resources:

    • Interactive Materials – Government of Canada: Visit the Government of Canada website and explore interactive and creative resources to help you get involved and learn more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

The College of Arts at the University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’ólh Téméxw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

The College of Arts also reiterates its commitment to action to all Indigenous communities through the continued support of Indigenous learners and the integration of Indigenous ways of knowing in the curriculum.

UFV Student Research Awards 2021 – Celebrating Arts students winners!

The 2021 Student Research Day featured 54 research projects created by 80 students from all areas of study at UFV. In addition, eight exemplary posters have been recognized with awards in honour of their scholarship. Among the awarded students, Arts students Regan Thompson (Psychology) and Michelle Grafton (Sociology) were awarded the President Award and the Dean, College of Arts Award.

Regan’s project named “Death Anxiety and Spiritually across the lifespan: Factors and relationships amidst COVID-19” was supervised by the Psychology Associate Professor Dr. Lesley Jessiman and counted 308 participants, from young adults (aged 19-40) to older adults (aged +60). It presented a new perspective about the correlations between death, anxiety, spirituality, age, depression, and loneliness.

In response to the circumstances created by COVID-19, Michelle Grafton’s project named “Enforcing the rules versus ‘doing what’s right’: lived experiences of labour and delivery nurses in the context of COVID-19” introduced a new sociological standpoint of how COVID-19 affected healthcare workers, and specifically labour and delivery nurses whose work demands an extra-level of mental, emotional, and physical support essential for the birthing process.

In the light of such brilliant projects, the College of Arts is proud to acknowledge the high quality of research work produced by Arts students and their faculty supervisors. Each research project is one step forward to making a global difference and creating new perspectives and opportunities for everyday challenges.

Click here to view Regan’s and Michelle’s full project.

Cultivate Connect – A link between practicum, research, and the Fraser Valley farm-to-market supply

When students first hear about practicums, some may think these opportunities will not help them pursue a career that uses their research skills. This project proves this wrong.

Back in May 2020, Joshua Vanderheide, founder of Field House Brewing, East Abby Hospitality Group, and UFV Graphic and Digital Design sessional instructor, approached the College of Arts, expressing a need for a survey project on the impact of COVID-19 on local food systems. With enthusiasm for the project from English Assistant Professor Dr. Michelle Superle, the project was created.  With Meagan Pitcher as the practicum student co-researcher, they formed the project.

Along with Dr. Superle and Meagan, the project further extended collaborative student opportunities with the School of Land Use and Environmental Change. Associate Professor Dr. Cherie Enns was instrumental in connecting two recent UFV graduates as research assistants (Gemma Bridgefoot and Sharon Alamwala). All the parts involved gained exceptional and extensive knowledge of multiple factors related to food systems.

This amazing experience connected College of Arts students and faculty with the Fraser Valley agricultural community/industries. As a result, the students collaborated with a variety of local stakeholders, gained extensive knowledge about the impact of research, and moved their learning beyond the classroom.

Click here to read the full report about the Cultivate Connect project.

2021 Arts Worx Internship Professionalism Awards – Recognizing and celebrating the outstanding work of College of Arts students during their internships.

From left to right: Maaria Zafar, Holly Janzen, Jaimee Fournier, Arsalan Sadiq and Harla Sidhu.
From left to right: Maaria Zafar, Holly Janzen, Jaimee Fournier, Arsalan Sadiq and Harla Sidhu.

Our success as an institution depends not only on our ability to deliver high-quality instruction for students but also on creating opportunities to connect their learning beyond the classroom and align it to their future post-university goals.

In recognition of promoting professionalism within our community and demonstrating integrity, openness, and dedication, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Arts Worx Internship Professionalism Awards:

  • Lorisa Williams (no photo) – History Major, Indigenous Studies Minor
  • Arsalan Sadiq – Media Arts
  • Holly Janzen- GDS major
  • Jaimee Fournier – English Major, History Minor
  • Harlajvanti Sidhu– Criminology Major, Communications Minor
  • Maaria Zafar – Criminology Major, Communications Minor

Congratulations to these amazing students. On behalf of the College of Arts and our community partners, we would like to thank you for all your hard work and dedication during your internship.  Keep rising and remember—the sky is (not) the limit!  You got this!

Voicing Social Justice through Visual Arts – A story about Faria Firoz: BFA grad student and the recipient of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal

Faria Firoz holding the award certificate and the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal
Faria Firoz holding the award certificate and the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal.

Faria Firoz is a BFA graduate student who has been living in Canada since she left her homeland of Bangladesh in 2016.

She has always been fascinated by art and studied art during her high school back in Bangladesh—but she wanted more. Faria combined her high-level skill set and passion for arts and social justice to raise awareness about important ongoing social, cultural, and political issues.

One of her most recent works was generated within the Black Lives Matter creative social justice art project, where according to Shelley Stefan, Visual Arts Associate Professor and Art Mentor for this project:

Faria’s participation in the Black Lives Matter creative social justice art project displays her commitment to the essential collaboration and unifying efforts needed to bring people together through creativity to support inclusion, diversity, reparation, poetic justice, and civic engagement. Her role in this project, alongside other Black, Indigenous, Mixed Race, and People of Colour, is a prime example of the type of bravery and leadership artists can embody toward the advancement of human rights in our communities.”

In recognition of her extraordinary work, Faria was the recipient of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal: an award granted for standout students whose work promotes and integrates diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation. As stated by Faria: “It is a very unexpected honour. To be recognized and appreciated at such a high level is something I never would have imagined. I am so grateful.”

Read Faria’s full story at UFV Today.

Where can a BA degree lead you? Our inspiring convo with Dr. Corman

Dr. Michael Corman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social, Cultural and Media Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. Dr. Corman’s research and teaching interests include a variety of topics that intersect with the sociological study of health, illness, and society.

As students embark on their academic journey, it’s not always clear where their degree may lead them or what opportunities they’ll encounter along the way. To learn more about what a Bachelor of Arts degree can offer students, we spoke with Dr. Michael Corman, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UFV, about his intriguing career path.

Watch the full, unedited interview:


What do you like the best about your work?

I love teaching. I love being in the classroom. I love seeing my student’s faces. I also love learning from my students. We have an extremely diverse student body here at UFV which is such a huge asset both as fellow students but also as academics and as professors.

I also love research. What I do for a living in terms of research is that I listen to people and I observe people. How cool is that?

What surprises you about your career?

One of the things, I guess is surprising is how diverse my job is. I teach, I work with medical doctors in Ireland, I publish and do research with nurses, I have students who are so interesting and come from different places and I can learn from their lived experiences. So the ever-changing-ness of what I do for a living.

I’ve taught Introduction to Sociology for almost thirteen years now and it’s never the same. I’m never ever bored.

What are the major factors that contributed to your career choice in sociology?

Social change and social justice

How have your personal values impacted your work?

I have been raised to think about social justice, to challenge inequalities and, of course, this is the underpinnings of sociology . . . to make change, to challenge social inequalities, to challenge power relations that benefit the few and the powerful. So, part of my own values made me align with what I do for a living right now, which is to teach sociology.

What is your preferred learning style and why?

I love to be able to put knowledge into practice. So experiential learning. I love listening to profs and reading content but also to be able to apply it.

In terms of my own teaching, putting content into practice is the major “so what” of what I try to do. Trying to teach my students “why does this matter to you.”

I try to engage both as a learner and as a teacher. I try to create an environment in my classroom that is less hierarchical and more conducive to collaboration and discussion so we can learn together.

What makes you feel successful in your work as a sociologist?

Once in a while, I’ll get emails from my students that say, “Mike, it’s your class that encouraged me to do a sociology degree or go on to my Masters or PhD.” And that brings one of the biggest joys to my life.

When did you know that you were good at what you do?

Generally, I think if you like or love what you do, sometimes you can be thought of being good at what you do. But getting feedback from my colleagues and my students to me was that moment where I was like, “I think I’m okay at this.”

So what are you reading right now?

Upstream Medicine. It’s geared towards making change beyond the clinic to making change in society.

Describe a place that impacted you and what was impactful about it?

Doha, Qatar. My first professorship. Being exposed to such diversity and difference. It really hit me in the face and really made me a better sociologist.

When you think of the future, what do you dream of?

I dream of a more equitable society. A society that challenges inequality, challenges racism, classism, sexism and ageism and all these different axes of inequalities that really we’re seeing today but have been underlying and present historically as well.

To me, what I do for a living is ever more important. I see and I hope for a more equitable world based on principles of social justice. A more generous way of organizing society.

February Success Stories

Seasonal Sociology announced as a 2021 PROSE Awards finalist

Social, Cultural & Media Studies (SCMS) Professor Emeritus Dr. Elizabeth Dennis recently co-authored a book chapter in Seasonal Sociology with colleague, Alison Thomas, from Douglas College. On January 21, Seasonal Sociology was announced as a 2021 PROSE Awards finalist in the Social Science Textbook category.

Read moreFebruary Success Stories