As educational institutions across the province prepare for the return of students for the new school year, a former council member for a local First Nation is the first Indigenous person named as chancellor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECU) in Vancouver.
ECU announced today (August 3) that the school’s next chancellor is Carleen Thomas, effective as of August 1.
The chancellor serves as the ceremonial head of the university and sits as a member of the board of governors and the senate, and also acts as an ambassador for the institution. The chancellor presides over major ceremonies, including convocation, and confers degrees to graduating students.
Currently, Thomas is the special projects manager for the Treaty, Lands, and Resources department at the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and she has an extensive background in education.
Previously, Thomas served as an elected council member for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation for 16 years.
Thomas has a bachelor's degree in education from UBC and has previously worked for the North Vancouver and Burnaby school districts as a district resource teacher in Indigenous education.
She also sat on the Burnaby School District’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee and served as the Aboriginal Representative Chair in the Capilano University Senate.
She currently sits on the federal Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee, which consists of 13 Indigenous and six senior federal representatives that provides advice to regulators and monitors the Trans Mountain Expansion project and existing pipeline.
In addition, Thomas has helped to educate others about Tsleil-Waututh history and Indigenous issues in various ways, including being on panels and participating in initiatives addressing reconciliation and modernizing institutions.
A ceremony in the autumn will mark the formal installment of Thomas and she will serve a three-year term, which can then be renewed for an additional three years.