First Nations Studies Student Association relaunches journal for undergraduate works

To better highlight undergraduate works in the field of First Nations and Indigenous studies (FNIS), the First Nations Studies Student Association (FNSSA) has relaunched their journal, xʷnaʔəlməxʷ sχəχi:ls or First People’s Writing.

Along with traditional academic work by Indigenous and non-Indigenous FNIS students, the student-run and peer-reviewed journal also includes creative writing to showcase First Nations’ storytelling and art. Alexa McPhee, a fourth-year political science and FNIS student and the journal’s senior editor, explained that its goal is to help bring awareness to Indigenous forms of knowledge.

“[Academia] can be a really jarring place if you’re Indigenous and you’re trying to function under a system that doesn’t understand the ways Indigenous people come to know and embody knowledge,” said McPhee. “The journal is embodying a very decolonial way of publishing.”

The project is also there to provide a platform for works by undergraduate students in particular.

“There is a big gap in academic publishing for undergraduate Indigenous and decolonial studies,” she said. “So we wanted to try and make that more accessible.”

Since this was the project’s first year and the editorial team’s first experience with creating a journal, McPhee described the relaunch as a “bit of a learning curve.” The challenge the team faced was mainly in finding their footing and creating awareness for the journal.

“We basically had to start from scratch, [but] we made the journal our big project of the year,” she said, noting that they have set up a Facebook page and a website for it, as well as spread the word through the FNIS department.

In the end, the journal was able to publish around half of the submissions they received — six pieces of academic and creative writing that span more than 50 pages.

“For the first edition as something that’s starting back up from the ground and something that hasn’t happened for a few years, we got a pretty good turnout,” McPhee said.

Moving forward, she called on UBC to provide more resources for projects like the journal as a key step in its reconciliation process. Other potential initiatives include hiring more Indigenous professors and giving graduate students more access to funding.

More immediately, the goals for next year’s edition are to incorporate more creative pieces into the journal to showcase the diverse forms of Indigenous knowledge and publish more work from Musqueam students. This year, the journal was able to publish the work of one Musqueam student.

“None of this would have been possible without Musqueam [Nation],” said McPhee, adding that the name of the journal, xʷnaʔəlməxʷ sχəχi:ls, was gifted by Elder Larry Grant.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how far the journal can go.”