Board members talk Unist’ot’en solidarity and student wellness
On the rainy Monday evening of Jan. 6, the UVSS Board of Directors convened for their first meeting of 2020.
The meeting began with an emotional and highly informative video created by Director-at-Large Kolin Sutherland-Wilson. His video detailed the ongoing conflict on Unist’ot’en territories as they fight for the right to protect their land from Coastal Gaslink and violence from the RCMP.
An amendment was made to the agenda, proposed by Sutherland-Wilson, which requested that the UVSS pledge money to the Unist’ot’en legal defense fund and that the UVSS make a public statement of support of the Unist’ot’en people. Near the end of the meeting, this motion unanimously passed. Sutherland-Wilson expressed his gratitude to the UVSS for supporting the cause, and stated that he will be walking out of classes in support of Unist’ot’en for the duration of the first week of classes.
After the discussion of the ongoing Unist’ot’en land crisis, there was a presentation by Rob Crisp, Director of Health Services at UVic, and Rita Knodel, Director of Counselling Services. Together they discussed the development of a new Student Wellness Center, set to open by this fall semester.
The new center will house a 24/7 mental health support line which will allow students to access mental health services as soon as they are needed, with minimal to no wait time.
Crisp and Knodel expressed their desire to catch UVic up to other institutions, which have already rolled out such services. Text- and telephone- based versions of the support line will be available, along with other forms of support.
Next came a presentation from Dakota McGovern, UVSS Director of Finance, regarding Director-at-Large (DaL) $50 honorariums and how they will be dispersed and received. The process will now require DaLs to submit at least two board reports per month and two hours of work per week as well as attendance to committee meetings in order to collect their honorarium.
Members of the Board shared updates and developments concerning their committees and councils.
The UVic Gender Empowerment Center (GEM) has commenced renovations in their GEM resource library. This renovation is slated to be complete in the middle of next week, on Jan. 15.
The Society for Students with a Disability (SSD) will start Wednesday community lunches next week, on Jan. 15. In addition, their Monday community craft days will also begin next week in the SSD space.
As the meeting came to a close, UVSS board members expressed their desire to show solidarity to the Unist’ot’en people. Apart from Sutherland-Wilson’s walkout, there is also a Day of Action taking place on Sunday, Jan. 11 outside the B.C. Parliament Buildings at 12 p.m..
With that, the first UVSS meeting of 2020 came to a close. The mood was heavy as board members and the gallery were left to ruminate on the changes and ongoing struggles that Indigenous peoples currently face on campus and nationwide.