EDMONTON (March 11, 2015)–Sometime between March 7 and 8, 2015, the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies tipi poles were desecrated by persons unknown, who wrapped toilet paper around the poles and adhered it with vinyl flag tape. The Faculty of Native Studies referred this matter to both University of Alberta and Protective Services and Edmonton Police Services for investigation.
“This act of disrespect targeted the culture of the Indigenous peoples and has caused Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff and faculty hurt, fear and discomfort,” said Brendan Hokowhitu, dean of the Faculty of Native Studies. “This is particularly disturbing in light of the memorial display for Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women, Girls, and Two Spirit persons that the tipi poles supported up until Friday, March 6.”
Tipi poles and the surrounding space are significant for many reasons and represent a sacred space symbolic of gathering peoples together. The Faculty of Native Studies condemns this as an act of vandalism against university property and as a serious breach of university policies and procedures if perpetrated by a member of the university community.
“This disrespectful and ignorant behaviour cannot be tolerated on this campus, regardless of the motivation,” said Indira Samarasekera, President and Vice-Chancellor. “The university stands in support of our Indigenous students, faculty and staff. We value diversity, inclusion and safe spaces for all members of our community. “
The Faculty of Native Studies is urging the perpetrators to come forward so as to be held accountable and to take responsibility for their actions and is working with U of A officials on next steps, as well as consulting local Elders.