Indigenous storyteller and educator awarded honorary degree

Mon, May 15, 2017

Widely recognized scholar of Indigenous education in Canada and internationally, Dr. Jo-ann Archibald is receiving an honorary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) on June 2.

Archibald is First Nations of Stó:lō and Xaxli’p ancestry.

A professor of educational studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she also served as associate dean for Indigenous education and director of the Faculty of Education’s Indigenous teacher education program, NITEP, Archibald’s work has shaped Indigenous education through curriculum, program development, policy, teaching and research.

“Jo-ann is a great example of pushing the boundaries of education,” said Dr. Alan Davis, president and vice-chancellor of KPU. “She changes the conventional expectations of a classroom setting in a way that allows for a better environment in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth can learn.”

Archibald is the author of Indigenous Storywork: Educating the Heart, Mind, Body, and Spirit published by the UBC Press in 2008. She believes in education through storytelling, a powerful tool to learn and connect.

She told Universities Canada in 2016: “…my roles within the university of course include much more, but the storytelling is a really important part of my identity as an Indigenous person, educator and researcher.” Archibald has worked with many Indigenous communities and educational groups to advance Indigenous education through Indigenous knowledge for which stories are a core part.

Nationally, she co-led the Accord on Indigenous Education for the Canadian Association of Deans of Education in 2010 to improve Indigenous education in Canada. This Accord has been used extensively across Canada by many organizations. She also initiated a national annual Indigenous teacher education symposium in 2012/13 that provides opportunities for all Faculties of Education in Canada to share their successes and challenges.

Internationally, she has established a formal connection between UBC and the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Newcastle University in Australia to create research and educational networks and initiatives. 

Archibald has served for many years as the theme editor of the highly regarded Canadian Journal of Native Education. Her academic expertise has contributed to the journal’s credibility and authority on all levels of Indigenous education Indigenous knowledge, language revitalization, community engagement, policy, and teaching and research methods.

As an educator, Archibald has literally changed classroom dynamics by engaging with students in such a physical, emotional, and spiritual way that offers them an opportunity to excel in their coursework and research.

Honorary degrees are awarded to those honoris causa in recognition of dignified achievements or outstanding service to the public. Members of the university community and the community at large are invited to nominate candidates. Nominees are exceptionally distinguished scholars, creative artists, public servants, prominent people in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally or globally.

By Corry Anderson-Fennell

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