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Aboriginal Education Research Forum 2017

Keynote Speakers

 

Verna Kirkness

Verna Kirkness

Verna J. Kirkness grew up on the Fisher River Indian reserve in Manitoba. Her childhood dream to be a teacher set her on a lifelong journey in education as a teacher, counsellor, consultant, and professor.

As the first cross-cultural consultant for the Manitoba Department of Education Curriculum Branch she made Cree and Ojibway the languages of instruction in several Manitoba schools. In the early 1970s she became the first Education Director for the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs) and then Education Director for the National Indian Brotherhood (now the Assembly of First Nations). She played a pivotal role in developing the education sections of Wahbung: Our Tomorrows, which transformed Manitoba education, and the landmark 1972 national policy of Indian Control of Indian Education. These two major works have shaped First Nations education in Canada for more
than 40 years.

In the 1980s she became an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia where she was appointed Director of the Native Teacher Education Program, founded the Ts’‘Kel Graduate Program, and was a driving force behind the creation of the First Nations House of Learning. Honoured by community and country, Kirkness is a visionary who has inspired, and been inspired by, generations of students.

Like a long conversation between friends, her latest book 'Creating Space' reveals the challenges and misgivings, the burning questions, the successes and failures that have shaped the life of this extraordinary woman and the history of Aboriginal education in Canada. Verna J. Kirkness is an associate professor emeritus at University of British Columbia. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of Indigenous education. She lives in Winnipeg.

Sherry Peden


Sherry Peden

Sherry Peden credits the University of Manitoba’s PhD Studies for Aboriginal Scholars (PSAS) program with helping her better understand the real value of her earliest teachings in life. The teacher, professor—and now senior administrator (at the University College of the North)—was raised in the rolling hills and forest near the Tootinawazaibeing Treaty Nation in southwest Manitoba. There, she would gather and grow her own food, haul water and wood, and watch her parents hunt. She learned about self-reliance and respect for the environment around her. This connection to her culture made her want to bring an Indigenous point of view into another realm: higher education. She believes in education programs that are connected to the land. For years, Peden taught teachers and principals how to better meet the holistic needs of Aboriginal students, a theme that she integrated into her research. Now, she is poised to make an even greater impact. Peden was selected as the Vice President Academics and Research, at University College of the North, which serves students above the 53rd parallel. Peden, whose PhD focused on school administration and Aboriginal education, says the U of M’s PSAS program helped her discover how best to use her traditional upbringing to teach other educators. Sherry's research from her Phd thesis explore Aboriginal perspectives and student teachers.