Fonds UBCA-ARC-1545 - Verna J. Kirkness fonds

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Verna J. Kirkness fonds

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  • Textual record

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5 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Born of Cree heritage on Manitoba's Fisher Reserve in 1935, Verna Jane Kirkness attended the Manitoba Normal School graduating with a teaching certificate in 1957. She then taught elementary school in the Manitoba public school system before working as a teacher and principal in Indigenous communities. From 1967 to 1970, Kirkness served as Elementary School Supervisor with Frontier School Division, where she was instrumental in establishing Cree and Ojibway as the languages of instruction in several Manitoba schools. In the early 1970s, as Education Directors for the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood and then the National Indian Brotherhood, Kirkness participated in developing and implementing the Manitoba Chiefs, Wahbung: Our Tomorrows, and the landmark 1972 national policy of Indian Control of Indian Education. She completed her BA (1974), BEd (1976) and Master of Education (1980) at the University of Manitoba. In 1981 she joined the University of British Columbia faculty, providing leadership for the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (NITEP) and creating the Ts'kel Graduate Program. Kirkness became the first director of UBC's First Nations House of Learning in 1985, and she was also instrumental in the conception and construction of the First Nations Longhouse, which opened on the campus in 1993.

In recognition of her numerous and varied contributions to education over more than four decades, Kirkness has received multiple awards. The Outstanding Educator of British Columbia award (1990), the Golden Eagle Feather Award from the Professional Native Women's Association, and the Canadian Youth Education Excellence Award as Canada's Educator of the Year. She has also been awarded the Order of Canada (1998), Order of Manitoba (2007), Queens Golden Jubilee Medal (2003), as well as honorary degrees from UBC (1994), University of Western Ontario (1992) and Mount St. Vincent (1990), and the University of Manitoba (2008).

Custodial history

Materials were transferred to the University Archives by Verna Kirkness via X̱wi7x̱wa Library on January 4, 2012.

Scope and content

The Kirkness fonds consists of speech and presentation texts and notes and copies of published articles and a report.

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Further accruals are expected.

General note

Please contact X̱wi7x̱wa Library, who have more archival materials from Verna Kirkness. Please see X̱wi7x̱wa finding aid XA-2 for further information.

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