The next installment in the Hearts Learning series hosted by Volunteer Campbell River is taking place on Feb. 15, with special guests Bill Wilson and Bev Sellars.
The event is a virtual conversation with the guests, who have extensive lived experience with issues like residential school and Indigenous rights and titles.
“Bill and Bev live here at least part of the time so we decided to invite them together,” said Mary Catherine Williams, executive consultant with Volunteer Campbell River. “It’s really quite an open agenda. They don’t have a specific topic.”
Wilson is the son of Puugladee, the eldest child of a hereditary chief and a Hamatsa, a position of high stature in Kwagiulth culture. He is also a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-kwil-tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwakaʼwakw Nations. Wilson was the second Indigenous person to graduate with a law degree from the University of British Columbia. He worked with other Indigenous leaders in the 80s, meeting with then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to negotiate Section 35 of the Constitution Act enshrining Indigenous title to traditional lands. He also worked to establish equality for Indigenous women.
“He also has a wicked sense of humour,” Williams said. “It’s always interesting to see how he perceives things and see his humour come through.”
Campbell Riverites might recognize Sellars’ name from when she was writer-in-residence at the Haig-Brown Heritage House from 2017-18. She is from the Xat’sull Nation and has written a memoir of her experience in the Williams Lake Mission residential school called “They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School.”
“The other more recent book, ‘Price Paid: the fight for First Nations Survival’ really looks at Indigenous Rights in Canada from the Indigenous perspective and talks a lot about understanding land claims, traditional title and that kind of thing,” Williams said.
Sellars also has experience speaking about racism and the impact of residential schools and how those have affected Indigenous people in Canada.
The event is part of the larger Hearts Learning project, which is designed around breaking down barriers between people within the community and learning from each other.
“The more we can meet, get to know and hear from Indigenous people, the more people like me as a non-Indigenous person can understand and build knowledge in a better way,” Williams said. “We can start to understand what the issues are and then go to fix some of those challenges together. That’s the whole point of this project: helping our community work together, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, to build a better community where everyone belongs.”
The event will be on Feb. 15 from 11 until noon. It is a free Zoom meeting, and tickets are available at Volunteer Campbell River’s Eventbrite page.