Sonia Keshane shares her passion
By Julia Siedlanowska, Staff Writer
Sonia Keshane is the aboriginal liaison at the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU). In her interview with the Other Press, she reveals how the support she felt during an event last February prompted her to put her name forward and get involved in student politics.
Could you explain for us your role as DSU’s aboriginal liaison? What duties does this include?
“As the aboriginal liaison, my portfolio consists of representing all aboriginal students on campus, and liaising with the Aboriginal Student [Services] Centre at both the New Westminster and David Lam campuses. I also organize and facilitate many different events, varying from social justice campaigns (such as Idle No More, Sisters in Spirit, and No Means No), to membership outreach initiatives (such as Welcome Week and Your Voice Matters), as well as free food events.”
When did you start being interested in aboriginal issues? Is this how your involvement with the DSU began?
“I have always been interested in advocating and raising awareness for many aboriginal issues; however, I had not taken a leadership role in this capacity until I helped organize the Idle No More event last February with the DSU. The success of the event and the support I felt from all the organizers and volunteers influenced me to put my name forward for the position of aboriginal liaison at the DSU.”
How has working with the DSU affected your life? Have you found it helpful in other aspects of your daily life?
“Being elected as a representative for the DSU has had a very profound [impact] on my life. It has given me an opportunity to connect with our membership and the larger community, as well as allowed me to work with a group of people who are passionate about their duties to serve the membership at Douglas College.
“I have found it helpful because it has given me a ‘political awakening’ to what issues I am interested in and also to what issues our students and communities face.”
If you could change one thing at Douglas College, what would it be?
“As an aboriginal woman and learner, I would like to see more initiative taken on by Douglas College for our aboriginal students and to see the Douglas College Women’s Centre have the proper supports and funding in place in order to operate and provide services needed. Although the DSU does take initiative in providing services to our members, it is vital that the college itself take ownership in ensuring all students have access to vital services.”
What advice would you give someone wanting to get involved with the DSU?
“Volunteer with the DSU! The DSU has a variety of volunteer opportunities, with an event for every student. Whether it be social justice related, or membership outreach, there is a space for all interests and hobbies. Joining or creating a club is another way to engage and connect with other likeminded individuals, as well as learning about what other services and things the DSU has to offer.”