EDITORIAL – Free parking at TRU for indigenous students a worthy idea

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

PARKING AT THOMPSON RIVERS UNIVERSITY is always controversial but there’s a new twist — a petition is asking that all indigenous students park there for free.

The online petition initiated by student Nicole ‘Morning Star’ Peters points out that opening remarks at many events include an acknowledgement that they’re taking place on the “unceded territory of the Secwepemc Nation.”

So, she says, the children of those who have lived here for thousands of years shouldn’t have to pay to park at TRU. Basically, her unspoken rationale seems to be that indigenous people are being made to pay to park on their own land.

According to Peters in various media interviews, the reaction has been, in large part, one of indignation and outrage — “awful” as she puts it.

Parking is an amazingly emotional thing, never failing to generate lively discussion. Things can sometimes get carried away.

There’s plenty of room for outrage in a suggestion that some people should get free parking while everybody else has to pay. But, Peters has a legitimate point.

When we stand and acknowledge that we’re on somebody else’s land, is it merely a polite formality, or does it mean something? Free parking for university students would be a small but appreciated gesture.

The University of Northern B.C. in Prince George announced recently that indigenous students will receive full tuition for undergraduate degrees. That’s a serious acknowledgement.

You might say, of course, well, what next — free parking for indigenous folks all over the city? After all, the same acknowledgement about living on unceded territory is offered at pretty much every public event.

I leave that to City council, but Peters raises some valid logic that’s worthy of respectful discussion.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7956 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Free parking at TRU for indigenous students a worthy idea

  1. We all pay or nobody pays. Most other educational institutions seem to operate this way.

  2. At what point in history do we say” enough is enough”.🤔. Indigenous people and offspring of mixed cultures, mixed with indigenous people have had a free ride on education, health care, taxes etc , for 60 years or more. If our sons and daughters wish to pursue higher levels of education we the parents of white children have paid for everything from books,tuition,parking,bus passes,etc. Through taxes and government programs,(paid for by taxes) we are already paying for Indigenous students tuition,books etc .

  3. What’s worthy in this day and age is a discussion on how to improve public transit and walk-ability and cycle-ability and not about the luxury and wastefulness of costly infrastructure dedicated to parking. What part of “we are destroying the planet for the falsehood of individual convenience” don’t you get?

  4. Beverley Campbell // December 12, 2019 at 7:52 AM // Reply

    There are many indigenous students whose tuition is paid by educational monies provided to the Band itself, I don’t know how many students tuition is actually paid by the Band, I am all for Indigenous students receiving undergrad paid degrees as in UNBC, we should be proud of those seeking an education, just as we should be paying attention to the High School drop out rate of Indigenous students. I don’t want to put further stress and resentment on them by dividing up who has free parking and who doesn’t, perhaps the Bands with students could be purchasing the parking passes? Rather than causing any criticism and resentment?

  5. I can’t support this idea at all! As mentioned in the article, where does it stop? We need to do more to integrate our society, not continue to divide it.

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