Portrait of Aaron Moore in front of totems at VIU Nanaimo campus

Making a positive impact on youth: Aaron Moore

September 24, 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.

 

Participating in the Community Cousins program at VIU allowed Aaron Moore to connect with his Coast Salish culture through activities such as learning from Elders’ teachings, participating in Tribal Journeys and forming bonds with other Indigenous students.

“I’ve learned first-hand that it’s never too late to better understand who you are, and what or who brought you to this very moment,” says Aaron.

Now Aaron, who graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care, makes a positive impact in the lives of Indigenous youth. He works as a Se’Ye’Yu Kinship Social Worker with Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services. He is also currently working with a co-worker to launch a program called 9 Nations Lacrosse to bring the sport to each on of Kw’umut Lelum’s member Nations and make it as accessible as possible for Indigenous children to participate in.

Aaron shares some of his experiences at VIU, what he’s been up to since graduating and what’s next for him.

Tell us about yourself.

Uy skweyul, my name is Aaron Moore. I am son of Leonard and Suzanne Moore. My Father’s Mother’s family is from the Stz’uminus First Nation and Cowichan Tribes, with connections to the Penelakut Tribe. My Father’s Father’s family is from Denmark and Finland. My Mother’s family is from Ireland and England. I’d like to say huy steep ‘qu to the Snuneymuxw People for letting me live and learn on their traditional territory.

What made you choose VIU?

I’ve always heard good things about the CYC program at VIU and I wanted to attend school close to home and as someone who grew up in South Nanaimo, VIU made the most sense for me.

How did you end up joining the Community Cousins?

I grew up playing lacrosse in Nanaimo. I played a lot with fellow ‘su’ luqw ‘a’ Sheldon Scow, so I spent plenty of time at his mother’s house. Sylvia Scow is Manager of Indigenous Protocol at VIU and coordinator of the Community Cousins program. When Sylvia saw me on campus, she asked if I wanted to be a part of this amazing program. I graciously accepted.

How has being a part of the Cousins shaped you as a person?

Being a Community Cousin has given me the opportunity to make a connection to culture that was never presented to my father. Growing up I was always considered an “Aboriginal Student” in elementary school, but at the time, I couldn’t really tell you what that meant. After becoming a Community Cousin, learning from Elders’ teachings, participating in Tribal Journeys and being so much closer to everything that I come from as a Coast Salish person, I know what that means now. I raise my hands to every Indigenous student that displays pride in where and who they come from.

Any other highlights from your time at VIU you want to share?

I was fortunate enough to represent the Community Cousins at various conferences and events, but I have to say that Tribal Journeys will forever be one of my favourite experiences. The practices brought us together and made us stronger. The paddling from nation to nation brought us closer. The laughs, songs and dances shared were amazing. I definitely won’t forget that experience.

What advice would you give to first year VIU students that you wish you had known?

I think it’s really easy to keep your head down and focus on survival in your first year of university, but it is very important to make connections and find like-minded people. It makes the whole experience easier when you’re going through it with someone by your side. 

What are you doing now?

Currently I am a Se’Ye’Yu Kinship Social Worker with Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services. In my role I advocate for and support children who have been placed in the care of extended family voluntarily. At Kw’umut Lelum we serve nine Nations in the mid-Island, including the one that my father’s family comes from. I love my job and I really enjoy working for Kw’umut Lelum due to our practices being very culturally informed.

What’s next for you?

I am applying to complete my Master of Social Work through either Wilfrid Laurier University or the University of Toronto.

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