Public access to Learning with Syeyutsus series expands

Vancouver Island Regional Library has partnered with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools and UBC Press on their Learning with Syeyutsus speaker series, providing opportunities for the public to engage in the program that was developed to respond to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action.

Call to Action #57 asks all levels of government to provide education to public servants on the history of Indigenous peoples. The school district initiated the webinar series, which is beginning its third season on Jan. 4 with author Joshua Whitehead, a two-spirit Oji-nêhiyaw poet and novelist from Peguis First Nation, in conversation with author Angie Abdou, who will discuss their forthcoming book Indigiqueerness: A Conversation about Storytelling.

VIRL will have copies of the texts featured in the series available in their collection as well as hold public screenings of the series and discussion groups at its branches.

Currently there are print copies available and digital versions are in the process of being purchased, VIRL said.

Other speakers this season, which runs through June, include Sa’ke’j Henderson, a key strategist and member of the drafting team for the creation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Susan Dion, Gabriola residents Phillip and April Vannini, Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez, Helen Raptis, Darwin Hanna, Allan Downey, Solen Roth, Adam Barker, Carol Lynne D’Arcangelis, Sigrid Lien and Hilde Wallem Nielssen.

A full schedule, and registration for at-home viewing, is available at

Gabriola library branch’s librarian, Kendra Runnalls, will be screening the webinars in-branch in the “deluxe new meeting room.” Runnalls plans on holding discussions afterwards for anyone interested.

“The series is apparently aimed at service providers, but I think it will appeal to anyone – the speaker line-up is so amazing!”

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder