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Date: June 18, 2008

National Aboriginal Day Experts

Saturday, June 21 is National Aboriginal Day. This date was declared by Gov. Gen. Roméo LeBlanc in 1996 since it corresponds to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and because for generations, many Aboriginal groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year. The following researchers are available for comment on Aboriginal issues:

Kerry Mason, an art historian, is an expert on Northwest Coast Art. Mason can comment on both historical and contemporary First Nations art and artists. Her other specialty is Emily Carr and B.C. art history which are topics closely linked to the history and art of First Nations’ people.
Media Contact: Kerry Mason (History in Art) at 250-721-6304 or klmason@finearts.uvic.ca

Lorna Williams is Lil’wat from the St’at’yem’c First Nation. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning at the University of Victoria where she is the director of Aboriginal Teacher Education. Williams can comment on Aboriginal education, Aboriginal language revitalization, curriculum development, teacher development, mediated learning, cognitive education, effects of colonization on learning, and Indigenous ways of knowing.
Media Contact: Dr. Lorna Williams (Linguistics) at 250-472-5499 or lornawil@uvic.ca. Please note that Williams is available June 17-19 and June 21.

Waziyatawin (pronounced Wah-ZEE-yah-tah-ween) is a Wahpetunwan Dakota from southwestern Minnesota. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples at UVic. Waziyatawin is a historian who studies how settler societies have impacted Indigenous societies and how Indigenous nations can recover their traditional values. Waziyatawin can comment on the systems and institutions of oppression and the effects of colonialism.
Media Contact: Dr. Waziyatawin (Indigenous Governance) is currently in Minnesota and is best reached by email at waziyatawin@gmail.com

John Borrows is a member of the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario. UVic’s Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice, Borrows is widely regarded as the leading Aboriginal legal academic in Canada who frequently works with Aboriginal organizations, government departments, inquiries, and treaty and mediation negotiators to promote dialogue among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada and internationally. He is a fellow of the Trudeau Foundation, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. Borrows can comment on the legal dimensions of most Aboriginal issues.
Media Contact: Professor John Borrows (Law) at 250-721-8167 or jborrows@uvic.ca

Jessica Ball is an expert in the quality of life of young Aboriginal children. Ball conducts research on Indigenous fathers as part of the national Father Involvement Research Alliance, a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) study examining the nature of fatherhood. She can discuss the significance of the recent apology by the Prime Minister in recognizing the devastating effects of the residential school program on the ability of Aboriginal fathers to be nurturing and effective parents.
Media Contact: Jessica Ball (Child and Youth Care) at 250-658-3126 or jball@uvic.ca

Establishing a supportive learning environment where Aboriginal students make a successful transition from high school to university is one of UVic’s top strategic priorities. UVic has launched a number of Aboriginal Initiatives including: the LE,NONET project aimed at improving the success rates of Aboriginal students; the Aboriginal Students Mini-U Summer Camp that allows students grades eight through 11 to experience university life; and the First Peoples House—a building that is intended to create a welcoming environment for UVic Aboriginal students that respects their culture and values. There are more than 600 Aboriginal students at UVic.

Media contacts:
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at 250-721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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