Thompson Rivers University

TRU wins national education award for Indigenous student research mentoring

June 13, 2019

KAMLOOPS–Thompson Rivers University has won the 2019 Alan Blizzard Award from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) for its unique, collaborative Knowledge Makers program.

Knowledge Makers is about growing Indigenous researchers, beginning at undergraduate level. A network of 42 members plus supporters at TRU have taken steps to significantly expand Indigenous student research. The network includes four Indigenous Elders, the executive director of the Office of Indigenous Education, all nine TRU deans and leadership from Open Learning, the TRU library and TRU World. This initiative is led by Dr. Sereana Naepi (associate director of All My Relations Research Network) and Professor Airini (dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work).

Indigenous students are selected to become Knowledge Makers to deepen understanding of Indigenous research, prepare multi-year research plans, learn to conduct research, and publish research. A multi-modal approach has been developed that transforms university teaching and learning. Since the program’s inception in 2015, more than 65 Indigenous students from at least 30 nations and bands have completed the fourth-month program and published their first reviewed journal articles.

Many of these students have gone on to other research successes and the Knowledge Makers network now includes mentoring circles at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. There is also a Knowledge Makers International Circle that spans five countries: Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.

“Knowledge Makers is about the students first and the potential within Indigenous researchers. We approached the award process humbly but intentionally. We believe in the need for Indigenous-led research. The Knowledge Makers team has been recognized for this award—Canada’s only team-teaching excellence award—which is granted once every two years,” said Dean Airini.

“It is our hope that colleagues across Canada may be encouraged to also develop programs in support of Indigenous research and researcher advancement. We look forward to sharing with them and continuing to walk this journey together.”

The Knowledge Makers was chosen from the highest number of applications ever for the Alan Blizzard Award. STHLE will recognize the Knowledge Makers at a ceremony in Winnipeg on June 13 The award highlights excellence in collaborative teaching and learning in post-secondary education.

The award was established in 2000 to encourage, identify, and publicly recognize those whose exemplary collaboration in teaching enhances student learning. The award honours Dr. Alan Blizzard, STLHE president from 1987 to 1995, and his convictions about the effectiveness of collaboration in team teaching for student learning. The award seeks to make visible and disseminate scholarship of teaching and learning, based on the values and practices of collaborative teaching.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Sereana Naepi, Associate Director, All My Relations Research Network
Thompson Rivers University
250-371-5703 |


Dr. Airini, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work
Thompson Rivers University
250-320-5552 |