The City of Vancouver's former Indigenous relations manager has found a new home in academia.
Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a member of the Nisga'a and Kwakwak'awakw Nations, has been appointed as the first Indigenous fellow with SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue.
She will focus on decolonization and urban Indigenous planning.
These are not new topics for Gosnell-Myers, niece of Nisga'a leader Joseph Gosnell, who led the negotiations for the first modern treaty in British Columbia.
In 2011, Gosnell-Myers was project director of the Urban Indigenous Peoples Study, which was coordinated by the Environics Institute.
It was a landmark examination into the lives and thoughts of urban Indigenous people in 11 Canadian cities.
This research project indicated that urban Indigenous people's leading life aspiration was to pursue higher education and that they hoped to become a significant and visible part of the urban landscape.
Later, as the city's Indigenous relations manager, Gosnell-Myers played a leading role in the Canada 150+ celebrations and a Walk for Reconciliation.
She also helped the City of Vancouver implement 28 out of the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
And she's been instrumental in helping many Vancouver residents understand that they live on unceded Indigenous territory.
Indigenous people are now being recognized to a much greater degree in the naming of public buildings and squares.
For example, host First Nations in partnership with governments have given Indigenous names to the nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona library branch, šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery, šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn Square in front of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and Xpey' elementary for the former Sir William Macdonald school.
In addition, the Vancouver park board has voted in favour of conducting a comprehensive colonial audit to improve practices related to reconciliation, including reminding residents of the region's Indigenous history.
And on National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Vancouver school board unveiled new totem poles on its site near the corner of West 10th Avenue and Fir Street.
“Ms. Gosnell-Myers is a thought leader and practitioner who brings a deep understanding of urban Indigenous issues, years of practice in bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in developing public policy and a passion for innovating new engagement processes that advance the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue executive director Shauna Sylvester said in a statement.
The hiring of Gosnell-Myers is one of many initiatives SFU has undertaken to promote greater understanding about First Nations.
Many years ago, SFU created the first executive MBA in Indigenous business leadership. In 2016, it established an Aboriginal Reconciliation Council. There's also an Office for Aboriginal Peoples and this year, the university released its first SFU reconciliation report.
These efforts toward reconciliation have also been reflected in various cultural events on campus.
For example in recent months, SFU Woodward's hosted Transmissions, a multimedia show by Indigenous artist and filmmaker Lisa Jackson, and the new Skoden Indigenous Film Festival.