The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business will bestow a major honour on the president of one of B.C.'s regional universities.
Deborah Saucier is a Métis neuroscientist and long-time psychology professor.
Last year, she was appointed president and vice-chancellor of Vancouver Island University.
Today, the CCAB and the award's sponsor, TD Bank Group, revealed that Saucier will receive the Indigenous Women in Leadership Award on September 16 at the CCAB's virtual Business Recovery Forum.
"A major focus for me as an administrator has been to change the narrative about who goes to university, which helps to move the needle and increase the number of women and Indigenous peoples in leadership positions,” Saucier said in a news release.
“We still have a long way to go to remove barriers and create supportive, inclusive learning and working environments" she acknowledged.
"For me, this award recognizes the importance of this work, and I am honoured and humbled to be recognized in this way.”
VIU makes Indigenous students feel welcome
For many years, Vancouver Island University has been a leader in First Nations education.
Its chancellor, Louise Mandell, is one of the most highly regarded Indigenous lawyers in B.C. She succeeded the first chancellor, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
Vancouver Island University offers a major and minor in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies for students studying for bachelor's degrees. There's also a child and youth care First Nations diploma program.
In addition, there are several certificate programs tailored to First Nations subjects, ranging from art to housing to Indigenous lands management.
Plus, there's a meeting place on the Nanaimo campus, Shq'apthut: A Gathering Place, offering a warm welcome to Indigenous students away from their families.
In the past, Saucier was president of MacEwen University in Edmonton. According to the CCAB, she ensured that the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action were incorporated into institutional decision-making at that institution.
“Economic empowerment starts with a solid education that celebrates Indigenous identities and cultures," CCAB president and CEO Tabatha Bull said in the news release. "Dr. Saucier’s work is ensuring that the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs, visionaries, and leaders get the support and education they need to be successful for themselves and their communities.”