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Western University appoints first vice-provost, associate vice-president of Indigenous Initiatives

Students walk across campus at Western University in London, Ontario. Geoff Robins / The Canadian Press

Western University’s first vice-provost and associate vice-president of Indigenous Initiatives will be an Anishinabe member of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.

A recognized leader in Indigenous education, Dr. Christy R. Bressette, whose Anishinabek name is Neeta-Noo-Kee Kwe (Hard-Working Woman), will begin her five-year term on March 1, 2021.

Formerly, Bressette was a national coordinator for Indigenous education with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.

She has also supported London-area Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee, and Lenape Nations, as well as Friendship Centres, to advance educational outcomes for Indigenous learners in the areas of policy, curriculum, and governance.

“Throughout her career, Christy has demonstrated an astute ability for bridging cultural differences between people to help ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality educational opportunities for all,” said Andy Hrymak, provost and vice-president of academics.

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Hrymak says Bressette has strong ties to Western and that her three degrees make her uniquely qualified for taking on this important new leadership role.

She holds a master’s in education from the University of British Columbia.

“The creation of this important senior leadership role is timely as Canadians endeavour to act upon the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where respect for all is central, and our actions are informed by their impact on future generations yet to come,” said Bressette, one of the first Indigenous women to earn a PhD in educational studies from Western.

In addition to teaching at the primary and secondary level in Ontario and British Columbia, Bressette has also taught several graduate-level courses related to Indigenous culture and education at Western’s Faculty of Education since 2004.

From 2017 to 2018, she co-chaired the Provost’s task force on the implementation of Western’s Indigenous strategic plan.

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“The work to implement Western’s Indigenous strategic plan will be informed by the wisdom, knowledge, values and worldviews of Indigenous ancestors, in collaboration with all members of the learning community and beyond,” said Bressette.

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Candace Brunette-Debassige will continue in her current role as acting vice-provost and associate vice-president Indigenous Initiatives until Bressette’s arrival and will remain during the transition until the end of June.

“For the past two years, Candace has been a strong leader, advancing the area of Indigenous initiatives in many important ways while at the same time completing her doctoral studies in the Faculty of Education. We are immensely grateful for her courageous leadership and ongoing commitment to serving Western,” said Hrymak.

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