Board Shorts — March 12, 2021

The board expresses support for youth activists fighting against for climate protection and Indigenous rights

Image: Irene Lo

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer 

The Board voices support for Braided Warriors Indigenous youth after arrest

Content warning: Mention of and link to video footage of police violence against Indigenous youth 

Science faculty representative WeiChun Kua and at-large representative Balqees Jama presented an open letter to the SFSS board to hold RCMP accountable for their arrest of the Braided Warriors youth on February 19, 2021. 

According to Kua, “They were protesting peacefully with sit-ins, doing their ceremony” when roughly 70 VPD officers removed and arrested the individuals. “Those who sustained medical injury were not given medical attention until after they were released from their holding.”

Kua said “they were being pulled by the hair, drums were thrown on the ground — and that’s very disrespectful of their Indigenous culture and ceremonies.”

The protestors occupied the building of an American International Group (AIG) office, which protects the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Kua explained that the protestors focused on “putting pressures on insurers [ . . . ] to stop insuring the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”

Jama said “as an advocacy body, the [SFSS] recognizes that protesting has always been a critical part of mobilizing — especially for meaningful societal outcomes for marginalized people.”

President Osob Mohamed said, “If you have the capacity, check out the videos because the extent at which these folks were subjected to violence is completely, in my opinion, over-escalated and unnecessary.” 

She also voiced disdain that the VPD have not reacted similarly to anti-mask protests. 

The motion to sign the open letter was passed unanimously. 

The Board receives presentation for Climate Emergency Declaration open letter 

SFU student and member of SFU350 Brennan Strandberg-Salmon said SFU should declare a climate emergency and adopt a set of recommendations. He brought forth an open letter to be signed by SFU student organizations, students, faculty, and staff. 

“For universities, the declaration doesn’t have a legal basis as it might with governments who declare a state of emergency. Its purpose is to signal that the university has committed to accelerate sustained and meaningful action to avoid catastrophic climate change,” explained Strandberg-Salmon. 

SFU350 recommended “decarbonizing operations, divesting from fossil fuels, raising awareness, and amplifying issues surrounding climate change — such as reasserting its position to the Trans Mountain Pipeline,” said Strandberg-Salmon. Other goals include creating a climate hub for students that would work alongside the sustainability office. 

Over 1,900 national and local governmental jurisdictions in 30 countries have declared climate emergency. In those areas, 600 post-secondary institutions — including UBC in 2019 — have declared, said Strandberg-Salmon. 

“[This is] not a purely symbolic act, we want SFU to remain accountable to us [ . . . ] Without immediate and drastic action to reduce emissions, our planet’s climate could reach tipping points — which essentially makes global warming irreversible in human time scales — which would disrupt economic stability, global trade, and increased inequality globally.”