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UM encourages respectful dialogue on the Thirty Meter Telescope

Statement from Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International)

September 19, 2019 — 

I recently met with members of the UM Indigenous Students’ Association and UM Indigenous Students’ Association Womxn’s Council to listen and have a dialogue about the complex situation taking place at the base of Maunakea in Hawai’i. We were honoured by the presence of Elder Wanbdi Wakita, Dakota Spiritual Leader and Sundance Chief and grandfather-in-residence with the Access Program; Christine Cyr, Director of the Indigenous Student Centre; and Dr. Kiera Ladner, Canada Research Chair in Miyo we’citowin, Indigenous Governance and Digital Sovereignties, and Professor of Political Studies.

I shared with students that the University of Manitoba remains committed to a renewed relationship and dialogue with First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples based on the principles of mutual trust, respect and reciprocity. We are dedicated to moving forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

Students in the meeting expressed concerns with police involvement on the mountain and with the possible ecological impact of the project. These are valid concerns, and the University of Manitoba encourages a peaceful, consensus-based resolution that respects principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a continued focus on proper stewardship of Maunakea.

UM’s role with the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project is as a member of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), which allows our scientists access to the telescopes and data collected from them.

As the project is taking place in an environment and context different to our own, with diverse views and voices on all sides of the issue, UM is focused on encouraging a peaceful, respectful dialogue between Native Hawai’ins, the TMT team, and the Hawai’in government on a path forward.

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