Reflections on the first week at AVP

Hey there! My name’s Dez. I’m a third year Social Work Student studying at UVIC. I am currently a practicum student working at AVP this semester and could not be more excited about this opportunity to learn, to grow, and to develop my “toolbox of skills”. During my first week, I had the opportunity to learn about the importance of self-care and what it means to truly look out for one another. As a student, I’m in a constant state of always learning new things, and one of the most fundamental pieces I took away from my first week at AVP was this idea of causing harm. Causing harm is not just something that people deliberately do and more often in fact is something we all do in life without even noticing we’re doing it. It’s the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around, this idea that we’re imperfect beings and even when we try our hardest to move through life with the best intentions in mind, we have all caused harm and we will all cause harm again in the future.


At AVP, there is a strong presence of mutual respect, a caring atmosphere, an understanding in each others personalities, and an innate need to practice decolonization in everything we do. We still recognize the very real possibility that even with all our good intentions, we will still all screw up from time to time. The important thing to remember is to hold yourself accountable and to try to do better moving forward. I spent my first week learning about the importance of practising territory acknowledgement regularly since all the work we do is directly affected by colonization and the damage that’s carried with it. Recognizing the intersections within our settler society and how the idea of consent is so widely lost in our world, you begin to see where all that damage stems from. One thing I’m still trying to continually remind myself to remember is that we are all in a constant state of learning and growing and while we do this work together it’s important to keep in mind that we won’t always get it right and that’s ok. I just have to remind myself to keep moving forward and to keep trying. With that being said, I would like to try my hand at practicing a territory acknowledgement as a sign of respect and recognition. So, here goes, my first territory acknowledgement:

As a settler on this territory, I would like to honour those whose homelands and traditional territories I work, live and play on, that of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. It is important to recognize the connection between colonialism and all forms of violence embedded in our society, since colonization is rooted in a lack of consent. It’s important to ground the work we do by practising decolonization in all areas of our lives, to help break down the barriers of oppression, and to ultimately “unsettle” ourselves.

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