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

VIDEO: Fort Langley was celebrating cultural diversity before it was ‘populaire’

Sunshine and mild temperatures helped draw hundreds to the historic site’s French Canadian festival.

Team BC defeats its hosts at junior curling nationals Sunday

Tyler Tardi and his team have played and won three games in the Canadian championships, so far.

LETTER: Nothing wrong with Langley mayor sporting Oilers jersey

Maybe a Giants jersey would have been more politically astute, a letter writer suggests.

Langley runner nominated for B.C. university athlete of the year

Trinity Western’s Regan Yee ‘surprised and delighted’

Family band from Aldergrove wins youth music award

The Springmans won a Fraser Valley Music Award for their album Happy Beach.

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

Most Read