The totems outside the Gathering Place

Infusing love into academia: Falon Crosby

April 18, 2021

Celebrating Indigenous mentorship at VIU

Vancouver Island University’s ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins Aboriginal student mentorship program is celebrating its 10th anniversary in September 2021. In honour of this important milestone, we are sharing stories of people closely connected with the program every month leading up to the anniversary. Stay tuned for a celebration of this important milestone in February 2022 – when we hope to be able to gather in-person.

The ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins program builds capacity for mentors to gain leadership and employability skills through outreach and mentoring activities. Students hone skills in self-awareness, communication, leadership, self-care and an exploration of personal values, with an emphasis on “telling one’s story” as a path to self-empowerment through outreach to others.

In the final year of her Bachelor of Education Post-Baccalaureate degree, Falon Crosby is gearing up for a career as an elementary school teacher. She intends to bring Indigenous perspectives into the classroom, sharing what she has learned through her program and through the Community Cousins to make a positive impact on students as they navigate colonial systems.

What motivated you to join the Community Cousins?

I wanted to connect with community, culture and learn more about who I am and my ancestral ties. I am proudly a woman of blended ancestral origin: Shíshálh, Quw’utsun, Tsimshian (Kitselas: Laxgibuu), English, Welsh, Norwegian, Irish, Swedish, French, Scottish, Hawaiian, Japanese and Central and South American.

What experiences have you had through the Community Cousins program that you’ll remember for the rest of your life?  

I received my certificate of recognition for the ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins Aboriginal Mentorship Program in December 2015. I have been involved with the Cousins while completing various degrees over the years. However, the past two years have brought particular depth and meaning. There have been so many invaluable teachings. The skills that I have gained through the program include but are not limited to:

  • Leadership
  • Honouring Indigenous protocol
  • Community building
  • Thuy Thut (fixing up)
  • Laughter and love, as medicine

Additionally, I have learned through the Elders’ teachings and from my peers about how to navigate colonial systems in a good way. I tend to take myself far too seriously and it has been such a joy connecting with the Cousins and the Elders. One key takeaway is the incredible gift of connecting with other Indigenous scholars on their journeys.

Colonization left my path fraught with many misconceptions about different Nations and my own lineage. My journey with the Cousins has been one of truth-telling and honouring each other’s stories. The program has played a strong role in helping me to shed the fear and shame of honouring my Indigeneity, as well as learning to stand strong as an Indigenous woman. It’s more than just a mentorship program; it’s a family. The bonds made are truly from the heart; the program infuses love into academia.

What do you hope to do with your VIU education?

I am passionate about helping others overcome personal and systemic obstacles. I would like to bring cultural perspectives into school systems, which have historically been unsafe spaces for Indigenous peoples. My academic achievements, as well as personal and professional development, will enable me to make a positive impact within systemic structures. I have spent considerable time reclaiming my ancestral lineage and actively decolonizing my mindset. Diverse representation in academic settings helps ensure equitable treatment of Indigenous peoples within colonial structures.

Can you give me three random facts about yourself?

  • Nature is my safe place; I love being near any body of water.
  • I recently have found joy and curiosity for mycology.
  • I have an interest in psychology, philosophy and world religions.

The Community Cousins is generously supported by the RBC Foundation, The Peter Cundill Foundation and many other valued community donors and partners.

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