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Langara College creating new position in aboriginal education department

The Langara Campus Totem outside the Building A was carved by Haida artist and former Langara student Don Yeomans in 1979. With the appointment of a new director of aboriginal education and services Langara campus will see indigenization of both the physical space and curricula. Photo: Emelie Peacock

Reported by Emelie Peacock

Langara College is taking extra care in its search for a director of aboriginal education and services, a new position created in May.

The idea to hire a director was inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the college’s deepening relationship with the Musqueam First Nation.

Hiring process takes into account many factors

Ian Humphreys, provost and vice-president academic and students, said the hiring process for this position is unique for a number of reasons

“We are consulting with our elders, making sure that we are getting input from people who are familiar with issues around aboriginal education,” said Humphreys. “It’s probably one of the [most] complex searches the institution has ever undertaken.”

Linc Kesler, Director of the UBC First Nations House of Learning. Submitted Photo

Linc Kesler, director of UBC’s First Nations House of Learning, said long appointment processes are common.

“Particularly when it has to do with aboriginal positions, that have an aboriginal focus, I think it’s always good to plan that it may take a bit longer because the number of people who have relevant experience and very solid qualifications in many fields is very limited,” said Kesler.

One of the roles of the new director will be to provide more learning opportunities for the aboriginal studies department as well as other programs. Some of these developments started in September, including the Reconciliation Carving Series and courses in the nursing faculty focused on health in First Nations communities.

Aboriginal studies program preparing their students

Eugene Boulanger, a member of the Dene Nation, from Tulit’a in the Sahtú Region of the Treaty 11 territory, says the aboriginal studies program is preparing him for a future role in his local aboriginal government.

“I feel really supported as an aboriginal student,” Boulanger said. “I just feel that increasing accessibility of the stuff that we’re learning in our program for all the students is an important step in reconciliation. So I’d like to see more concrete action on Langara’s part.”

No exact date was provided for the appointment of director of aboriginal education and services.

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