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

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

New school bus ready to go at Chief Matthews Elementary

Students at Chief Matthews Elementary cheered today as a woven cedar rope… Continue reading

Shakeout drill set to test Haida Gwaii earthquake plans

Several schools and public organizations set to join 10:18 a.m. earthquake drill today

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Leaving B.C.’s electoral reform to a referendum is ‘ridiculous’: professor

B.C. voters getting ballots in the mail on proposal to change electoral system

Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

The Saudi government claimed Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a ‘fistfight’

One year to election: Trudeau Liberals gear up for tussles on climate, premiers

Analysts say that the Liberals have reason to be ‘fairly confident’

GUEST COLUMN: B.C.’s proportional representation vote is dishonest, misleading

Veteran of 2005 Citizens’ Assembly urges rejection of new voting systems

Prank pizzas delivered to B.C. mayor on election night

The fake orders happened throughout Victoria mayor’s re-election campaign

MLA to become Nanaimo’s next mayor, could weaken NDP’s grasp on power

Leonard Krog’s win will trigger a byelection when he gives up his provincial seat

Horvat nets OT winner as Canucks beat Bruins 2-1

Young Vancouver star had spirited scrap earlier in contest

Most Read