“I am honoured to join Aboriginal Affairs and work with executive director Paul Michel and the other members of the Indigenous education team,” Matthew said.
“It’s an exciting time to be at TRU, with all of the indigenization efforts underway in all of the departments and with our new chancellor, Nathan Matthew, being formally installed on June 6,” she added.
Tina Matthew is from Simpcw (North Thompson) First Nation just outside of Barriere, BC, and she brings with her a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience from her community and from urban areas such as Vancouver. She built her skills and knowledge through her work in K–12 public school and post-secondary settings, as well as through her experiences as an employment counsellor and an advisor with the Industry Training Authority.
Early in her educational journey, she noted a lack of Indigenous instructors. This motivated her to become an educational practitioner and connect with people in a teaching/learning context.
“I have worked with Indigenous groups across Canada (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) and draw upon this experience the most because I recognize that every group and organization is unique,” she said.
“I am working on strengthening all of our connections on campus so that we can support every student at TRU in succeeding. I have a broad-based approach to working with academic, Open Learning, trades, foundation skills, students and community partners.”
This includes the invaluable services offered by Cplul’kw’ten: transitions, culture mentorship, learning strategies along with the computer centre, Elders, Soup Wednesdays, Indigenous counsellors, English/math tutoring and a safe space to learn and grow. These services and more support Indigenous success—whatever success looks like for each student.
“‘Student success’ means so many different things to so many people. It is up to every student to define what it means for them. For example, for many Indigenous people, things do not happen on a linear continuum,” Matthew said.
“The Office of Aboriginal Affairs strengthens transition, recruitment, retention and graduation rates of Indigenous students,” she said. “We do so through student support; community partnerships, such as with the Kamloops Interior Aboriginal Friendship Society; and high-impact initiatives such as Truth and Reconciliation forums, First Nation language revitalization classes, Métis conferences and TRU intercultural understanding workshops. Our office works with all departments on campus to ensure that we are communicating effectively to best assist TRU administrators, faculty, staff and students.”
Indigenization goes beyond territorial acknowledgement, although that is an important first step.
“Students need to see themselves reflected on campus—more Indigenous people all over campus in administrative, staff and faculty capacities. And initiatives and events such as Indigenous Grad, National Aboriginal Day, the Indigenous Elders Luncheon, Orange Shirt Day, the pow wow, the First Friends Feast, First Nation language revitalization classes, Métis conferences and Truth and Reconciliation forums (to name a few) all support students. It is also important for students to stay connected with their families and communities, and our office assists with this, too.”
Matthew also mentioned community-initiated and -driven projects that can build the connection between partnerships (like Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society), communities and TRU.
“It is important to maintain open lines of communication with what the Indigenous communities and organizations want and align this with how TRU can deliver.”
What can TRU and its community do to walk alongside Indigenous students in their journey?
“Get to know the people in whose territory you work and live in and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she said.
Tina Matthew | firstname.lastname@example.org| 778-471-8395