Former child watchdog to head UBC centre on residential schools

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead university’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

B.C.’s first-ever children’s rights watchdog is taking on a new role as director of the University of British Columbia’s centre on Indigenous history and residential school system.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond will be lead the school’s new Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, which officially opened April 9, UBC announced Thursday.

Turpel-Lafond, who’s Cree and Scottish, will aim to ensure the centre provides residential school survivors access to the records gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

“This opportunity to deepen the dialogue and respond to the legacy of residential schools is historic,” Turpel-Lafond said in a statement.

“What happened with these schools, and the policies that permitted them to flourish, must never be forgotten or set-aside.”

READ MORE: Former B.C. children’s watchdog sues province

READ MORE: Bernard Richard resigns from children’s representative office a year and a half

UBC president apologizes for ‘failing to confront’ over residential schools during opening of Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. (The Canadian Press)


Turpel-Lafond resigned as B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth just one-month shy of her 10-year term, in October 2016.

Created in 2007, the independent office is in charge of investigating and providing insight into how the government runs its youth welfare system.

She championed several cases of children who had fallen through the cracks in government care, notably Alex Gervais, an 18-year-old boy who fell to his death from a hotel room while in the care of a delegated aboriginal child welfare agency.

“She was the voice for young people who were not able to speak up for themselves,” said UBC president Santa Ono.

“Mary Ellen will ensure that the voices and the experiences of people who suffered at Indian residential schools in their childhood for a century are articulated and understood.”

The centre, located on UBC’s Vancouver campus, opened with an apology made by Ono earlier this month, when he told a crowd that universities bear part of the responsibility for residential schools because they trained many of the policy-makers who administered the schools and tacitly accepted the silence surrounding it.

Turpel-Lafond is also a professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law.

She holds a doctorate in law from Harvard Law School, a master’s in international law from Cambridge University, a JD from Osgoode Hall at York University, and a bachelor of arts degree from Carleton University.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jumbo saga reaches finale

A three-decade long disagreement comes to a close.

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Former Waterside property to be rezoned?

Invermere residents supported rezoning Waterside property.

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Kobe Bryant killed in California helicopter crash: reports

NBA star was reportedly in his private helicopter at the time of the crash

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Most Read