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Chancellor’s remarks at “Healing Through Culture and Arts” symposium

A collage of photos from the symposium of people doing lei making and other cultural art. At the center is banner: Healing Through Culture and Arts.
Photos from the “Healing Through Culture and Arts” symposium, Oct. 6.. (Alana Ortiz/Waiolama)

Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin delivered these remarks at a campus symposium titled “Healing Through Culture and Arts” held on Oct. 6. The event was presented by the UH Hilo Office of Equal Opportunity; the Committee for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and the Waiolama Center, which is UH Hilo’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center. The event celebrated UH Hilo’s diversity with workshops and discussions.

Aloha mai kākou,

Hōʻoia ʻĀina (Land Acknowledgement Statement)

He kalahea kēia a ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Hilo, mai ke Keʻena o ke Poʻo Kulanui:
He honua ʻōiwi ʻo Hawaiʻi nona ka poʻe ʻōiwi o ka ʻāina, ʻo ia nā kānaka Hawaiʻi. Aia kēia kulanui ma kēia ahupuaʻa ʻo Waiākea, ma ka moku ʻo Hilo. Kū nō ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Hilo i ka hoʻohiki a Ke Kulanui o Hawaiʻi e hoʻoulu i ke ola o ke kaiāulu ʻōiwi ma o ka hana kālaʻike ma nā kahua kula he ʻumi o ka ʻōnaehana papahana hoʻōiwi kulanui i kapa ʻia ʻo Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. He leo aloha kēia i ka poʻe a pau e ʻākoakoa ana i ʻaneʻi.

Aloha mai kākou.

Translation:

On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the Office of the Chancellor acknowledges the following:
Hawaiʻi is an indigenous space whose original people are today identified as Native Hawaiians. The university is in the land division called Waiākea, in the district of Hilo. The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo aligns with the University of Hawaiʻi System’s commitment to fostering the wellbeing of indigenous communities through academic processes put into effect with the ten-campus, system-wide transformation called Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. This land acknowledgement welcomes everyone who gathers here.

Greetings to all.

I am honored to welcome you to the Fall Symposium on Healing through Culture & Arts, hosted by the Waiolama Center here at UH Hilo.

It is important, especially on a day when we contemplate racial healing through arts and culture, that we take a moment to honor those who originally settled here. As a relative newcomer to this place, I am grateful to be allowed to share this space in which to live and work.

Two years ago, UH Hilo applied successfully to be a center for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT). This program, sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), allows us to build on our already robust programming on diversity, equity, and inclusion here on campus as part of a network of nearly 50 universities, including our sister campus at Mānoa. Waiolama, aims to provide a safe space for the campus community to engage in critical conversations around racial disparities and systemic injustices, both past and present, and promote healing and understanding of shared humanity.

Today, Waiolama brings us together through arts and culture, both of which form the basis for identity, communication, and healing.

My mother, who is an artist, ran into an old friend at church last week. They had not seen each other for a few years, so my mother got her friend up to speed on her recent health challenges, and the first question her friend, also an artist, asked her was, “Have you gotten back to your art yet?” Mom’s friend Pat knows not only that art is important to my mother, but also the role in can play in our physical and mental health. As I participate today, I reflect on those same things.

Through the practice of traditional arts we can also build connection to our native Hawaiian host culture, nurture our connection to ʻāina, and come together as a campus ʻohana.

We are rightly proud of our status as one of the most diverse universities in the country, but without doing the hard and important work on equity and inclusion, that diversity statistic is just a number. Through the efforts of Waiolama and other programs on campus, we hope to be able to truly be a model of equity and justice for others, to be a center for healing and unity in our community, and to be a place where every student and employee feels welcomed and valued.

Share with aloha

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