New Leaders, Better Futures

New Leaders, Better Futures

Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
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The UBC Okanagan campus proudly celebrates its first Aboriginal PhD graduates: Michele Johnson and Marlowe Sam.

An Indigenous language activist, Johnson is currently pursuing post-doctoral research in Indigenous language revitalization through Simon Fraser University. Having learned the Nsyilxcn language spoken in the Syilx First Nation territory, she now teaches others to help bring this and other endangered languages fully back into daily common life.

As a long-time Aboriginal rights activist, Sam’s PhD thesis examined Indigenous water rights in Canada and the United States. He teaches Indigenous studies at the En’owkin Centre in Penticton, a First Nation post-secondary institution offering educational programs to enhance Aboriginal culture, language, political development, and leadership.

As members of the Syilx First Nation whose traditional territories extend from the BC south-central Interior to north central Washington, Johnson and Sam are taking their knowledge and energies back into their Okanagan communities and no doubt act as inspirations to other First Nations’ youth, future graduates and PhDs.

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Johnson and Sam are taking their knowledge and energies back into their Okanagan communities

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Photo Credit: Paul Marck

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