VIU Nanaimo campus aerial view

Indigenous Speakers Series

VIU's Indigenous Speakers Series, delivered in partnership with CBC Radio's Ideas program, began in 2015 to mark the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is held every fall at the Nanaimo campus, on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. 

Announcing the 2023 speaker 


Riley Yesno

This year's keynote speaker is Riley Yesno. Join us on November 22 for her talk: 

The "Reconciliation" Generation: Indigenous Youth and the Future for Indigenous People

When: Wednesday, November 22, 6:30 to 8 pm

Where: Malaspina Theatre (Building 310 at VIU's Nanaimo campus) or online via Zoom webinar

Register for this free event via Eventbrite

Riley Yesno is a queer Anishinaabe scholar, writer and commentator from Eabametoong First Nation. 

She is highly sought after for her words and analysis – called an “Indigenous powerhouse” by the Toronto Star – she has been a contributor and commentator for some of the largest media outlets in Canada and the world, including the New York Times, BBC World News, The Globe and Mail and CBC National News

Riley has also travelled the globe speaking at internationally renowned institutions and events, including the UN climate negotiations, the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality, TEDx stages and many others. 

Her major project right now is teaching Indigenous governance and justice at Toronto Metropolitan University and completing her PhD at the University of Toronto, where she studies Indigenous/Canadian politics and is a Vanier Scholar.

Watch her Tedx Talk, “It’s time to re-imagine Canada’s ‘nice’ identity.”

Past speakers

Wilson Williams portrait

Wilson Williams (Sxwíxwtn)

Wilson Williams (Sxwíxwtn) spoke on "Our land, our spirit, our story: The Squamish Nation's return to Sen̓áḵw." 

Learn about Wilson Williams (Sxwíxwtn)
Connie Walker headshot

Connie Walker

Investigative reporter Connie Walker was the keynote speaker for VIU’s seventh annual Indigenous Speakers Series on November 22, 2021.

Learn about Connie Walker
Jess Wente headshot

Jesse Wente

Jesse Wente, an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, speaker and arts leader, shared his perspective on Canada’s truth and reconciliation process during VIU’s sixth annual Indigenous Speakers Series on November 25, 2020.

Learn about Jesse Wente
Max FineDay portrait

Max FineDay

Max FineDay, Executive Director of the Canadian Roots Exchange, shared his perspective on what reconciliation looks like during VIU’s fifth annual Indigenous Speakers Series on Monday, November 25, 2019. 

Learn about Max FineDay
Doug White headshot

Douglas White III Kwul’a’sul’tun

Douglas White III Kwul’a’sul’tun, a lawyer and former director of VIU’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, delivered the keynote address at the University’s fourth annual Indigenous Speakers Series on Monday, November 26, 2018.

Learn about Douglas White III Kwul’a’sul’tun
Gabrielle Scrimshaw photo

Gabrielle Scrimshaw

Indigenous entrepreneur, activist, speaker, writer and academic Gabrielle Scrimshaw shared some reflections on youth and reconciliation during the University’s third annual Indigenous Speakers Series on November 20, 2017.

Learn about Gabrielle Scrimshaw
Dr. Tracey Lindberg

Dr. Tracey Lindberg

Dr. Tracey Lindberg, accomplished Cree academic and writer explored the complexities of reconciliation at VIU’s Indigenous Speakers Series on November 22, 2016.

Learn about Dr. Tracey Lindberg
Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo

Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo

Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo spoke on “Daring Greatly Together: Reimagining Canada” in VIU's inaugural presentation of the Indigenous Speakers Series on November 26, 2015.

Learn about Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo