UCG Spotlight: Ty Styner - Jane Goodall

UCG Spotlight: Ty Styner

Written By: Ty Styner, UCG Victoria Cohort Coordinator
Category: Youth Power

JGI Canada’s Uncovering Common Ground initiative creates space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from across Canada to exchange perspectives and knowledge in order to break down barriers and stereotypes impeding reconciliation. The Cohort Coordinators play an important role in overseeing youth involvement in their geographic region and guide participants through their community projects. Here we introduce the new Victoria Cohort Coordinator, Ty Styner.


Huy ch q’u

My name is Ty and I am a visitor to the unceded territories of the Lekwungen- and SENĆOŦEN-speaking peoples, in what’s commonly referred to today as Victoria, BC. As I wake and work with the gift of fresh breath from ancient cedars, my gratitude grows every day for the guidance of Elders, mentors and friends from the Songhees, W̱SÁNEĆ, and Huu-ay-aht Nations who continue to share space, time and values of patience, compassion and respect in helping to support my own developing understandings of the gifts and responsibilities of being here in a good way.

Huy ch q’u

I believe my path to participating with Uncovering Common Ground began several years ago when, during one of my early university courses, my classmates and I were welcomed to the land by Elder Sellemah of the Songhees Nation. Hearing her heart-felt words of acknowledgement and prayer, first in Lekwungen and then in English, I realized how little I know about this place I too call home. Sparked in that moment was a feeling of gratitude and responsibility to begin a life-long journey of learning about the incredibly strong and diverse cultural knowledges and relationships to these lands and seas, which have been continuing to grow on these territories since long before my own ancestors sailed here from their native homes of Iceland and Ireland.

Ty and Elder Sellemah at the “Ego to Eco” art event at the University of Victoria.

For far too long, myself and many others have only known an incomplete Indigenous history of Canada, one that left out the injustices experienced by Indigenous peoples through various church and state-run programs. Recognizing the inequality and racism of Canada’s past is not enough however, just as importantly we have to realize the ongoing and systemic oppression of Indigenous peoples today, as well as the strength and resilience of these lands’ First Nations and cultures. In Canada we do not only have an Indigenous history, but an Indigenous present and an Indigenous future. As we all consider what the world will look like for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren it’s apparent to me that the only just and sustainable path forward is one committed to reconciliation and decolonization – one that we walk together in relationships of respect.

Ty taking part in a field school at Tl’ches, learning from the land as guided by Elders, and working alongside community members from the Songhees Nation.

With a core belief that by bringing our diverse knowledges together we can help guide the growth of healthy, just and socially sustainable relationships in the living system of plants, animals, people and the environment – that so many know as home – I recognized the UCG initiative as an opportunity to work in a good way. With its collaborative approach to developing meaningful projects with community partners from the ground up, I felt a calling to get involved.

In this role with the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, I aspire to respect and reciprocate the knowledges that have been shared with me through supporting Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to improve mutual understandings on the interwoven paths of reconciliation and decolonization.

In seeing the roots and shoots of the awesome projects that participants worked on last year, it is my hope to bring an extra bit of sunlight to support another year of good growth ahead!

Photo credits: Ty Styner & Darcy Mathews