Here we are, a new academic year at Capilano University begins, a year unlike any other. While I wanted to come to all of you and talk about how great this year will be — and it will be good in its own way — I can’t honestly look forward to the year to come without reflecting on where we were at this time last year, the events of the past several months, and the current state of our global community.

We are collectively mourning, still, for losses we can name and identify as well as others we can’t. While Black and Indigenous communities in Canada are grieving from a centuries-long legacy of colonial and racist violence that is now thrust into mainstream public discourse, a global health emergency continues to underpin every aspect of our lives. While the events of the past several months have affected each of us differently depending on our identity, employment status, immigration status, and personal health, we have all experienced loss.

What a background upon which to return to school, which is why I want to recognize each and every one of you for having the courage, the tenacity, and the resilience to choose to pursue your post-secondary education right now — whether you’re coming back to Cap or taking classes for the first time. For those of you who may not have a choice, and are continuing your education out of necessity — I see you too.

More than ever we need to lean on one another for support, think collectively, and re-imagine what it means to connect as a community. This has been top of mind at the Capilano Students’ Union, and we’ve been working all summer to ensure that our community has access to the services they need to be successful this year. And when I say “success”, I mean whatever that looks like for you, because as much as we are called to reach out and support one another this year, we must also turn inwards, practice self-compassion, and be gentle with ourselves.

The Capilano Students’ Union remains committed to enhancing the student experience of those studying at CapU. We’ve worked hard to adapt our programs and services to be delivered online and remotely, including the Device Doctor personal electronics repair service, Community Cupboard food bank, and the newly launched csubookmarket.ca. As the voice of students on the North Shore, we continue to meet university administration as well as representatives from the local, provincial, and federal levels of government in order to make sure our members’ perspectives are heard. 

I’m not going to sugar-coat this for you, it’s going to be a challenging year. University is no walk in the park, and when our global community is shifting at an increasingly rapid pace around us, there are plenty of opportunities to be pulled away from our studies. Despite this, we have the incredible privilege of pursuing higher education and now is the time to use our knowledge, community connections, and experiences to create the world we want to live in — and leave a legacy that will empower our descendants and communities to thrive for generations to come.

In a time of unprecedented challenge, we must practice unprecedented kindness, unprecedented compassion, and unprecedented love, and we have to do it together. I know that no matter where we are in the world, the students of Capilano University, with the support of their student union, are capable of all that and whatever else this year has in store for us.

So, welcome to the 2020/2021 academic year.