“Long before Canada was formed, the Stó:lō, the people of the river, occupied the land on which UFV is located. They lived in the Fraser Valley and lower Fraser Canyon of British Columbia and they spoke Halq’améylem, also known as the upriver dialect. UFV recognizes and honors the contribution Indigenous people have made – and continue to make in our community. We’re thankful we can live, learn and enjoy this land while a member of the UFV community.” – University of the Fraser Valley
I’m very grateful for the opportunity presented to me by the Student Life Association to create the logo for the New Student Orientation. The creation of this symbol was much more than just drawing a frog and then putting it on a t-shirt. It was a pursuit of knowledge and meaning. I sat down with Indigenous Elders who are waiting to share their wisdom to those who are ready to listen. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in this project. I’m excited to look back and see this design for years to come.
During the brainstorming process Hillary Rowe in Student Life suggested an endangered animal local to the Fraser Valley, The Oregon Spotted Frog. As I began my research for this project, I came across Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery who “promote Pacific Northwest Coast Culture and Artwork”. They say the “the Frog symbolizes wealth and abundance”. “When a Frog is portrayed in art with his tongue touching another creature it represents the sharing of knowledge and power.” I thought to myself, “knowledge and power, how perfect”.
I sat down with Shirley Anne Hardman, the Senior Adviser on Indigenous Affairs to learn more about the history of the Frog. She told me to think about how frogs can adapt to different environments. Frogs can live in the water, frogs can live on the land and some even live in the trees. I had the privilege of listening to elder David Gutierrez tell a short story of how Frog and his brothers were able to trick the rain into coming back to the West Coast after leaving it dry (this short summary doesn’t do the story justice. If you see me around campus, I would be happy to tell you more!) Our elder Siyamiyateliyot Elizabeth Phillips chose the Halq’améylem word for the New Student Orientation. Tl’etl’axel, meaning “how things were done a long time ago and still practiced today. A foot runner used to go all places and ask people to come”. I also had the privilege collaborating with Dave Pinton, the Director of Communications about connections between the frog and university life.
Students come to university for knowledge and to meet educators who will share their wisdom, like a frog. A student must learn to adapt to a new environment, we need to be ready to face a new set of challenges with each coming semester. Juggling studies, work, responsibilities and a social life (Don’t forget your social life!). Student Ambassadors are passionate people. They’re ready to help ease the stress of this transition and make it exciting! Over the course of university life each student will learn things that they will be able to pass on to those that come after them creating a never-ending cycle of learning.
The UFV Community starts here in the Fraser Valley and according to Wildlife Preservation Canada the Oregon Spotted Frog is the most endangered frog in Canada and only found here in the Fraser Valley. These aquatic frogs reside in BC’s wetlands, swamps and marshes which are disappearing due to development. Indigenous artist Carrielynn Victor wrote it perfectly from the point of view of the frog in her book Shy Frog, “Bulldozing marshes, pouring gravel on top of wetlands, and diverting streams are all ways that we lose our homes. Please be careful about where you build homes and put your garbage.” Her book is a Story of an Endangered Oregon Spotted Frog and she begins by teaching us the word for “Big Pretty Frog” (Pehó:mō:lh) that I unfortunately cannot pronounce because we couldn’t find someone who knew how to say the word which goes to show you that this language is endangered as well. There is a great online Stó:lō dictionary available through UFV, the Halq’améylem word for frog is Pípehò:m. Just like protecting the endangered frog and Halq’améylem, at UFV you’ve got people to help you, encourage you and protect you. Use those frog-like skills to survive and just like Frog and his brothers – Make it Rain!