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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

We start the morning with quiet, some food and a hot drink. We say first hellos to one another and see the group forming for the first time as one by one we arrive. The Elders were there first, though. They have been ready before this beginning and they have been waiting. This is important work. There are Elders, professors, students, administrators, support staff around. A few husbands, wives and partners. A few young children. There are linking double doors between classrooms. They are opened wide. We see the room next door with a circle of desks, and chairs in front in an inner circle. There are symbols around the room — a map of Secwepemc Nation, bark baskets, a pine needle basket, the poster of First Peoples Principles of Learning, the artwork The Elders are Watching. The Elders move to the front door to the new room. We gather behind. Some of the senior scholars and community members can be seen moving to the back. Things become silent. A humming, tapping drumming begins. Smudging sage is lit. A reminder of women’s moontime is murmured. Elder Mike taps the heel of his eagle-headed walking stick and walks forward with our Elders Doreen, Estella and Margaret. We smudge, too, if able. We follow slowly, in the direction of Earth’s rotation. We pause when the Elders pause. We move forward when the Elders do. We enter the circle of chairs walking again the full circle to vacant seats. No one cuts across the circle. Everyone moves together and is learning through watching. We know there is a pattern to all of this, but no one holds a program in their hands. A few nods to confirm. A few gentle smiles and hand movements to reassure where to be. We remain standing. The words and prayers from the Elders begin. Knowledge Makers begins.


The campuses of Thompson Rivers University are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwépemc Nation within Secwépemc'ulucw. As we share knowledge, teaching, learning and research within this university, we recognize that this territory has always been a place of teaching, learning and research.

We respectfully acknowledge the Secwépemc — the peoples who have lived here for thousands of years, and who today are a nation of 17 bands.

We acknowledge Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc.
We acknowledge T’exelcemc and Xat’súll.
We acknowledge the many Indigenous peoples from across this land.

Knowledge Makers is an Indigenous student research network at Thompson Rivers University. For more information, contact

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