When it came time to hire a new Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator (IRC) for the Faculty of Fine Arts, we didn’t have to look very far: just down the Ring Road to the Faculty of Law, in fact.
Karla Point—whose traditional Nuu chah nulth name is Hii nulth tsa kaa—is now the second person to hold this position, following Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde (currently pursuing her PhD with our Theatre department). Part of the Hesquiaht First Nation, she is a life-long learner with strong ties to UVic thanks to both her BA (Humanities, 2003) and LL.B (Law, 2006). Karla was previously the cultural support liaison with UVic Law.
“When I read the description for this job, I thought, ‘This is me—this is where I belong’,” she says. “The idea of sharing knowledge, learning with others and working with artistic people really appeals to me.”
Engaging her creative license
In addition to her position with the Faculty of Law, Karla has been a reconciliation agreement coordinator with the Sts’ailes Nation, a First Nations program coordinator with Parks Canada, and a treaty negotiator and elected councillor for the Hesquiaht First Nation.
“I know I can do something for this job, but this job can also do something for me,” she says. “It’s such a huge contrast to the law—law is so set, but here you’re encouraged to have creative license. There’s so much we can share and collaborate on to ultimately come up with a model that’s a blend of Western and Indigenous knowledge.”
Exploring resurgence initiatives
As the IRC, Karla will support and guide Fine Arts on ways to decolonize existing curriculum and methodologies, incorporate Indigenous perspectives and pedagogies into our curriculum, and develop and implement a variety of resurgence initiatives—including outreach to local communities and student recruitment.
“When I thought about all the different jobs I’ve had and the different people I’ve worked with, I felt like I had what it took to indigenize a curriculum,” she says. “To do a good job, it has to be really collaborative . . . if everyone starts at the beginning together, then we know what the journey is—and it will be successful and well-received.”
Education as a healing journey
Karla will work with university staff, faculty and students while consulting with Elders, Knowledge Keepers and community partners, ensuring her work as the IRC aligns with Indigenous community aspirations for post-secondary education—a topic close to her own heart.
“I’ve had a really hard time with education . . . school and institutionalized education was always a real struggle,” she admits. “But when I went to college, I really appreciated the world of knowledge.”
After attending the Christie Indian Residential School on Meares Island for 15 months in the 1960s, Karla’s parents withdrew her and her brothers; she then attended 25 public schools in 10 different towns, but never graduated from grade 12. “My parents were residential school survivors who were always looking for the geographic cure,” she explains. “They never found it.”
Her own journey to post-secondary began as an adult at Camosun College, eventually culminating in both a diploma and her UVic degrees. “While I was on my educational journey, I was also on my healing journey.”
Welcoming “Auntie Karla”
The mother of three children and grandmother to nine, Karla looks forward to building relationships with the Fine Arts community. “Even though I’m here to develop resurgence initiatives and help Indigenous students, I don’t discriminate: I’ll help any student who comes through the door,” she says. “When I was a cultural support liaison with Law, I was ‘Auntie Karla’ for the Law students—so I’d love to be Auntie Karla for all the Fine Arts students.”
After spending the summer familiarizing herself with the new position and the Faculty in general, Karla will be ready for the return of students in September.
“I’m really excited about this position and feel very welcomed,” she says. “I think I’m going to enjoy it here.”