New Indigenous Leadership Appointments at UBC

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Agence Olloweb

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Agence Olloweb

In his Welcome Back message at the start of the 2018/19 academic year, the Provost and Vice-President Academic of the University of British Columbia, Andrew Szeri, made special reference to the appointments of Dr. Margaret Moss as Director of the First Nations House of Learning and Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot as the Senior Advisor to the President on indigenous Affairs, along with Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as the inaugural Director of the Indian Residential Schools History and Dialogue Centre.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a renowned Indigenous Canadian judge, lawyer and advocate for children and Indigenous restorative justice, joined UBC as the inaugural director of the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) and as a professor with the Peter A. Allard School of Law in April of this year. UBC President Santa Ono, in announcing her appointment, commented: “Mary Ellen has been a tireless advocate for vulnerable children and for Indigenous rights in the legal system, making her the ideal candidate to lead the IRSHDC and an exemplary addition to the Allard School of Law. While the province’s Representative for Children and Youth, she was the voice for young people who were not able to speak up for themselves. As the director of IRSHDC, Mary Ellen will ensure that the voices and the experiences of people who suffered at Indian residential schools in their childhood for a century are articulated and understood.”

Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot has been appointed to the role of Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs, for a five-year term, that commenced on August 1, 2018. Dr. Lightfoot is Anishinaabe, and a member of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe, from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Michigan area). She is an Associate Professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program (FNIS) and in the Department of Political Science. In her new role, she will “provide vision, leadership and diplomacy in advancing the university’s overall strategic plan in relation to Indigenous affairs across both Vancouver and Okanagan campuses”.

Dr. Margaret Moss has been appointed to the role of Director of the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL), for a five-year term commencing November 1, 2018.

Dr. Moss is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota), and has equal lineage as Canadian Sioux via Saskatchewan. She is currently Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the University at Buffalo, and a tenured Associate Professor in the School of Nursing. She is a 2018 Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence at the university level, and co-chair of the Indigenous Inclusion Sub-Committee for Inclusive Excellence. She is the first and only American Indian to hold both nursing and juris doctorates.

As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, she staffed the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and was the lead staff member on the now enacted National Alzheimer’s Project Act. Dr. Moss recently published the first nursing textbook on American Indian health which won the American Journal of Nursing 2016 Book of the Year award in two categories. Dr. Moss earned her PhD in Nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and her Juris Doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law in St Paul, Minnesota. She received her tenure in 2006 from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Moss’ clinical experience included being Staff Nurse and then House Supervisor and Patient Education Specialist with the US Public Health Service (Indian Health). Her areas of research include American Indian health, aging, health policy and health disparities with a focus on social and structural determinants of health.

Dr. Moss was a 2014 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Aboriginal/Indigenous Life and Culture in the North American Context at McGill University, Montreal, where she analyzed Canadian Census and Health laws and the resulting deficits for indigenous health outcomes. As an Associate Professor at Yale University (2010–2015), she directed both the Masters and Doctoral programs on Leadership and Policy.

As Director of the FNHL, Dr. Moss will work closely with Faculties and support units at UBC Vancouver to advance the development and implementation of policies, academic programs, research and other initiatives that address the needs and aspirations of Indigenous learners. She will hold her faculty appointment within the School of Nursing at the Vancouver campus.

Under New Programs, the Provost also noted: UBC’s nurse practitioner program will double in size thanks in part to $1.2 million in funding, adding 15 domestic student seats, while new funding for the Faculty of Education’s Early Childhood Education program has been committed for the 2018/19 school year.

In an announcement on July 18, 2018, the University of British Columbia Faculty of Education: Early Childhood Education announced that more students around the province will soon have access to online training opportunities to become early childhood educators, thanks to an expansion of the program offered through the UBC Faculty of Education.

The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training have invested $350,000 over three years to help the Early Childhood Education program add a part-time online certificate for 72 students.

UBC’s Faculty of Education is offering a program of courses that would lead to the BC Early Childhood Education (ECE) Assistant and Basic Certificates. These credentials are required by the Ministry of Children and Family Development to work in early childhood settings (ages birth to 5 years) in BC. Upon completion of the courses in the program, graduates apply to the Early Childhood Education Registry for certifications.

The Government of BC news release noted that, based on the 2017 Labour Market Outlook, B.C. will need 9,100 additional early childhood educators by 2027. Training quality early childhood educators is key to ensuring that B.C. children have access to quality early childhood education programs in communities throughout B.C.

Funding for the expansion at the faculty of education at UBC is part of the $7.4 million over three years that the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training has committed to fund an additional 620 early childhood educator graduates at public post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.

Nelli Agbulos