University of Lethbridge appoints 1st ever Indigenous chancellor

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WATCH ABOVE: Friday was a historical day for the University of Lethbridge, as the first chancellor of Indigenous decent was named. As Demi Knight reports, former Blood Tribe chief Charles Weaselhead will be stepping into the position – Feb 1, 2019

Friday marked a historic day for the University of Lethbridge as the former Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weaselhead became the institution’s 14th chancellor and the first Indigenous person to hold the role in the school’s 52-year history.

“I think the standard thing to say is that I’m honoured,” Weaselhead said. “But I’m also deeply surprised that the position was awarded to me.”

READ MORE: Teachers get a lesson in incorporating Indigenous histories at the University of Lethbridge

A residential school survivor, Weaselhead has dedicated his life to promoting education, health and economic development for Indigenous Canadians.

Boasting a rich history of work with organizations and committees, including the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the First Nations Governance Centre.

Now ready to take on a new journey, he believes his position as chancellor will offer an even larger platform to continue his work.

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“The biggest thing we can do is offer educational opportunities to our youth,” Weaselhead said.

“This appointment with myself as the chancellor for the University of Lethbridge I think will help them put a little bit of the thinking cap on that we can get into those positions, but we need to move forward with education and we need to understand that there is life outside of the reserve community.”

READ MORE: U of Lethbridge math professor looks back on five decades at the university

A ceremony was held on Friday to welcome Weaselhead into the position, as friends, family and fellow scholars delighted in the monumental occasion.

“I’m so proud of our university that we made the decision to recognize the importance of our Indigenous community here in Lethbridge and southern Alberta,” said Mike Mahon, University of Lethbridge president and vice-chancellor.

“And for recognizing Charlie for who he is — an amazing leader, a great businessman, a fantastic communicator and somebody that’s really made a difference both in his community and the broader community.”

READ MORE: Indigenous students proudly showcase their culture at University of Lethbridge’s 2018 convocation

The University of Lethbridge has spent many years building on its history with the Blackfoot community while continuing reconciliation efforts. Staff said they’re excited to move forward with more growth with Weaselhead now on-board.

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“Seeing one of our people being a chancellor at the University of Lethbridge is, you could say a life-long dream that has now become a reality,” Leroy Little Bear, special adviser for the president of the university, said.

Weaselhead will be officially installed at this year’s spring convocation.

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