KSA President and Indigenous Rep. Attend CFS National Meeting

KSA President and B.C. Representative for the CFS, Caitlin McCutchen. (Braden Klassen)

Relations have been tense between the Kwantlen Student Association and the Canadian Federation of Students in recent years, primarily due to the KSA’s long-held intention to leave the federal advocacy group out of dissatisfaction with its services. While the KSA has in the past tried to defederate, it has ultimately failed, and is now one of only two member associations from British Columbia that remain in the CFS.

This has led to the election of KSA President Caitlin McCutchen as the representative for British Columbian student-members of the CFS. As such, she is now a member of the national executive, leaving her in what she describes as a “weird” position.

“To have me on the national board is something that I never saw coming. I don’t even know how to navigate it,” she says. “I don’t think anyone else knows how to navigate it either, other than to be unbiased and to do my job where I have to do my job.”

Still, McCutchen is confident in her ability to succeed in both of her positions, as KSA President and CFS representative. In situations where she feels torn between her loyalty to either organization—such as when members of the KSA’s executive team raise the subject of leaving the federation—she often opts to recuse herself.

“There’s no time to [defederate from the CFS] this year quite frankly, and no money, and I don’t see it happening,” she says. “But I told them, if you guys are going to have these discussions can you just have them without me? Let me know what you’re going to do. I think that’s the only situation where I’ve had to be like, ‘I’m still your president and I’ll support what you’re trying to do, but I’m on the board you’re trying to leave.’”

In regards to the motions put forward, she says that most were “issue-based” rather than directed at certain individuals and conflicts within the CFS itself, adding that she was impressed with the “diversity of motions” she saw at the federation’s national meeting. Some of these include updating their cannabis policy to reflect legalization, adopting a mental health policy, and getting rid if the constituency for student artists.

The most recent CFS national general meeting wasn’t the first for McCutchen, but it was for Sarah Strachan, the Indigenous Students Representative for the KSA. Surprisingly, Strachan was also elected to a B.C. representative position in the CFS.

Overall, McCutchen feels that “the vibe of the whole national meeting, not just the executives but the members, is totally different now that the BCFS is gone.” She describes the new atmosphere as “more inclusive and pleasant.”

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