Share Royal Roads Online

Deep Gratitude for Community

December 13, 2019
Cheryl Heykoop
Rock path in Japanese garden

Centering Indigenous Ways of Being, Knowing, and Doing

On November 8, 2019, the School of Leadership Studies came together on the ancestral lands of the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees) families to continue conversations about how we can explore decolonization, Indigenization, and reconciliation in the MA Leadership program and the School of Leadership Studies more broadly. An Allan Cahoon Global Advancement and Diversity Award was received to support this conversation.

This blog post shares one faculty member’s reflections on this work.


Dear community:

With the holiday season upon us, I am filled with heartfelt gratitude and wonder for this place, the School of Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University, which rests on the ancestral lands of the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lekwungen (Songhees) families, and where I have the incredible opportunity to work, live, and grow.

“To be here is to be affected, made more” (Wagamese, 2016, p. 146).

This year, I feel particularly grateful to be part of our School community that continues to come together to explore how we might decolonize our programs and our work, or as dear colleague Alexia McKinnon suggested: how we can centre Indigenous ways of being, knowing, and doing in all that we do.

As a visitor on these lands, I’m constantly reminded about how important this work is. Yet, I’m also filled with so many questions: what is this work exactly, what does it look like and feel like, how will we know when we are there, and that we have done it in a good way? I’m not entirely sure what to do; however, I know in my bones that it is vital that we grapple with these challenging and important questions, both individually and collectively.

I’m learning from colleagues and friends who self-identify as Indigenous that this work isn’t easy and there is no clear path ahead. Rather, we are being called to step into this discomfort and uncertainty with an open mind, an open heart, and an open will. We are being invited to listen, to trust, to learn, to misstep, and to apologize. We are being asked to rediscover what it means to be in relationship and to reimagine the possible.

As a member of the School of Leadership Studies, I’m excited we are taking steps forward to sit with these questions and to reimagine how we can centre Indigenous ways of being, knowing, and doing in all that we do. I feel grateful to be part of this incredible, courageous community. And although we don’t yet know where we are heading, we are doing it together— together we are reimagining our collective future. This feels powerful beyond measure and I am deeply grateful to be on this journey into the unknown with all of you.

Thank you for all that you are and all that you do!



Wagamese. R. (2016). Embers: One Ojibway’s meditations. Douglas & McIntyre.