Indigenous Perspectives On Health

First Nations Studies professor Dr. Margo Greenwood (left) and Northern Medical Program professor Dr. Sarah de Leeuw have co-edited a new book that gives voice to Indigenous health experiences

New Zealand Bound

Students Roxanne Umpherville (left) and Mia Pupic are the first two UNBC participants in the Cross-Cultural Indigenous Knowledge Exchange program with a Maori university in New Zealand.

Writer in Residence

Award-winning author and former Poet Laureate for the City of Victoria Janet Rogers is the latest Writer in Residence at the University of Northern British Columbia.


Program Chair

Dr. Gary Wilson

BA (Hons) in Political Science (Carleton); MA in Russian and East European Studies (Toronto); PhD in Political Science (Toronto)
Professor, Program Chair

Office: ADM-3066
Phone: 250-960-5514

My research and teaching examines the remarkable resiliency and adaptability of regions and communities in the face of the powerful forces of global change.  My work on Arctic politics and governance explores the multidimensional relationships that exist between Inuit regional governments and organizations, and non-Aboriginal governments at the provincial, national and international levels.  I am also interested in the ways that small island regions, such as the Isle of Man in the British Isles, are protecting and revitalizing their indigenous languages and cultures in a world that is becoming increasingly homogenized.  Closer to home, I study the impacts that global processes and changes are having on communities across northern British Columbia and other parts of the Canadian provincial norths.


  • Margo Greenwood

    Margo Greenwood is an Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry with more than 20 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. Professionally and personally, children have been the focus of her life. She has worked as a front line caregiver of early childhood services, designed early childhood curriculum, programs, and evaluations, and taught early childhood education courses at both the college and university levels. As a mother of three, she is personally committed to the continued well-being of children and youth in Canada.

    While Margo's focus has been on all children, she is recognized provincially, nationally and internationally for her work on Aboriginal children. She has served with over 20 national and provincial federations, committees and assemblies, and has undertaken work with Unicef, the United Nations, and the Canadian Reference Group to the World Health Organization Commission on Health Determinants. In recognition of her years work in early childhood, Margo Greenwood was the recipient of the Queen's Jubilee medal in 2002.

    Currently, Margo is a Professor in both the First Nations Studies and Education programs at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).

  • Dr. Ross Hoffman
    BA, MEd, PhD
    Associate Professor

    Ross Hoffman completed his Ph.D. in Native Studies at Trent University. He began his studies in the discipline of Native Studies at Trent University, completing his B.A. in the mid 1970's. He earned his M.Ed. in Curriculum Studies at the University of Victoria. Originally from Ontario, he has lived for more than two decades in northwestern BC. During that time, he worked with Wet'suwet'en, Gitxsan, and Cree communities on a variety of community-based research projects in the areas of education, language, and culture, and health and wellness. This interdisciplinary research has included extensive work in the oral tradition with Elders and other knowledge holders. Prior to coming to UNBC, Ross worked as a sessional instructor with Trent University and Northwest Community College. His broad research interests include studying the relationship between cultural renewal, identity, and health and wellness.

  • Agnes Pawlowska-Mainville
    BA, MA, PhD
    Assistant Professor

    Agnes Pawlowska-Mainville completed her Ph.D. at the University of Manitoba in the Native Studies Department, where she also did her M.A; she earned her B.A. from McGill University. Her decade-long work with the Asatiwisipe Anishinaabeg examined cultural and natural resource stewardship as a form of community self-determination on the First Nation-led UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination called Pimachiowin Aki, “the land that gives life” in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway language). Agnes has been engaged with activism mainly through her work against diverse non-renewable resource development projects in northern Manitoba, in Grassy Narrows and Couchiching in Ontario, as well as in Tulita NWT.

    As part of her grassroots work with the Makeso Sakahican Inninuwak (Fox Lake Cree), Agnes helped lead a group of Elders, resource-users and academics to present evidence at the Clean Environment Commission hearings against the Keeyask and Conawapa dams in Manitoba.  Her testimony on intangible cultural heritage included a critique of the current Environmental Impacts Assessments and environmental regulatory processes and their dealings with the severity of impacts on the heritage of local harvesters and knowledge-holders. Her publications include a UNESCO case study on the Poplar River Indigenous Community Conserved Area (ICCA), on the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Site Nomination and well as numerous articles in the Canadian Dimension Magazine. A non-Aboriginal woman with knowledge of conversational Anishinaabemowin her research interests include issues in [post]colonial and contemporary theory; identity; UNESCO policies and heritage discourse; food sovereignty and sustainable community planning; Indigenous land and resource stewardship practices; acknowledging carriers of traditional knowledge; recognizing cultural landscapes; the inclusion of cultural and natural heritages in environmental assessment processes and; impacts of resource-extraction and co-management projects Aboriginal rights, practices and stewardship systems.

  • Rheanna Robinson

    Hello and welcome! It is my pleasure to introduce myself to you as one of the faculty members in the department of First Nations Studies at UNBC. I would like to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh where the Prince George campus of UNBC sits and I have had the privilege to live for more than a decade.

    My name is Rheanna Robinson and I am a proud member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia. I am also a proud mom to two young sons, Sean and James, who are also of Nisga’a ancestry. While my Métis heritage comes from Manitoba’s Red River Valley, I was raised in the community of Smithers, BC and moved to Prince George in 1995 shortly after UNBC opened. I earned my BA in History/First Nations Studies (2001) and my MA in First Nations Studies (2007) at UNBC and I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Educational Studies at UBC. I have been teaching at UNBC since 2006 and deeply value the role of Indigenous Knowledge within institutions of higher learning.

  • Judy Thompson
    BSc, MSc, PhD
    Assistant Professor

    Dẕenēs̱ hoti’e! Edōsdi ushyē. Tałsetān didene hots’ih.
    Tsesk’iye esdā tsehi. Tlabānotine hots’ih ja’ sini.

    My name is Edōsdi, which literally means "someone who raises up pets and children", or more simply, “someone who is a teacher.” I am a member of the Tahltan Nation; my clan is crow and my crest is frog. My English name is Judy Thompson and I was born and raised in La̱x Kxeen (Prince Rupert, BC) on Ts’msyen territory. For almost 25 years, as a student, educator and researcher, I have been building relationships with Aboriginal communities, which has included connecting youth with their Elders. I have mentored students at a First Nations post-secondary institute and a community college, teaching in adult basic education and university credit programs. I have developed many courses and programs, which have often included ways to Indigenize curriculum, decolonize teaching, and provide support for Aboriginal learners. My teaching career has ranged from teaching at the primary school level, to teaching Grades 8-12 math and science courses to adult learners, to teaching university credit courses in First Nations Studies.

    I completed a PhD at the University of Victoria, where I also completed an MSc in Environmental Studies. At Simon Fraser University, I completed a BSc in Kinesiology and the Professional Development Program, which lead to the completion of a professional teaching certificate. My doctoral dissertation, Hedekeyeh Hots’ih Kāhidi – “Our Ancestors Are In Us”: Strengthening Our Voices Through Language Revitalization From A Tahltan Worldview, employed a Tahltan research paradigm and spoke to the ways in which the voices of my people can gain strength and healing through the revitalization of our language. My doctoral research guided the development of a Tahltan Language and Culture Framework, which focuses on governance, programming, documentation, and training and professional development. Since 2012, I have been the Tahltan Language and Culture Lead for my Nation.

    As a long-term resident of northern BC, I am so excited to continue my learning, teaching, and research journey at UNBC, on the lands of the Lheidli T’enneh people. My research interests include Indigenous language revitalization, Indigenous research methodologies, culturally-based curriculum, and Indigenous knowledge systems.


Anderson, Margaret

Professor Emeritus

Mills, Dr. Antonia

BA, Ph.D. (Harvard)
Professor Emeritus

Phone: 250-960-6690

Mills was previously a Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer at the University of Virginia, USA. She earned her BA from Radcliffe/Harvard, and her PhD from Harvard. First Nations land claims, religion and law, and reincarnation beliefs and cases are her current research interests. She has conducted field work with the Beaver Indians since 1964. Tonia co-edited (with Richard Slobodin)  Amerindian Rebirth: Reincarnation Belief Among North American Indians and Inuit (1994), and is the author of Eagle Down is Our Law: Witsutit'en Feasts, Laws and Land Claims, published by UBC Press (1994). This latter book is the result of her spending three years living in Witsuwit'en territory and serving as an expert witness and writing an expert opinion report for the Delgamuukw case. Her booked supported by a SSHRC Grant, "Hang On To These Words: Johnny David's Delgamuukw Testimony" was published by the University of Toronto Press (2005). She has been awarded a Shastri Indo-Canadian Instituted Fellowship for "A Longitudian Study of Young Adults who were said to Remember a Previous Life." She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and one on "Indigenous Perspectives on Reincarnation and Rebirth" (at both levels). Tonia has also published a variety of journals such as Culture, B.C. Studies, and the Journal of Anthropological Research, and chapters in books.

Adjunct Faculty

Fraser, Tina

BSc, MEd, Ph.D. (UBC)
Associate Professor
Phone: 250-960-5714

Dr. Tina Fraser is a Maori scholar teaching at the University of Northern British Columbia.  She is an Assistant Professor and the Aboriginal Education Coordinator with the School of Education, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Nursing and First Nations Studies. Dr. Fraser is a Fellow of Te Mata O Te Tau (The Academy for Research and Scholarship at Massey University, New Zealand). In her previous role, she was the ActNow BC Initiatives Research Manager and the Cultural Advisor to the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, Centre of Excellence for Adolescence and Children with Special Needs, and the Network Environments for Aboriginal Research BC. She has a Nursing background, Early Childhood Education, Bachelor of Science; Master of Education, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of British Columbia.  She, along with colleagues, has published articles and chapters in Early Childhood Education, First Nations and Indigenous Knowledge(s).

Henderson, Earl

Adjunct Professor

Connection to Culture and Community Leadership: Earl Henderson is a respected Elder in the Prince George community and is of Métis/Cree descent. He is a pipe carrier practicing both contemporary and traditional methods of healing. In this role, he has led training on traditional cultural practices and cultural competency for a number of groups and organizations, including Iyiniwak Traditional Healing & Medicines Gathering, Kikino Métis Children and Family Services, Northern Health Youth Services, Carrier Sekani Family Services, University of Northern British Columbia, Métis Annual General Meeting Elders Gathering, College of New Caledonia Nursing Program, MCFD, Prince George Youth Custody, UBC Aboriginal Graduate Symposium, Central Interior Native Health Society, Project Parent North, Positive Living North, Halfway River First Nation, and Lheidli Tenneh First Nation. He has been involved in incorporating traditional cultural practices into BC corrections facilities. His sessions are based on the Aboriginal holistic approach to wellness, including teachings about the medicine wheel, sweat lodge, pipe ceremony, circles, traditional health and healing, loss and grief, traditional medicines, ethics and confidentiality, impact of residential schools, and connection between past and future (Aboriginal worldview). Earl brings his role as an Elder to the Cedar Project to advise and guide the study's direction. He has held regular sweats with community, and Cedar Project participants are invited to attend.

Community Counseling: In his over 25 years as a counsellor Earl has worked with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal clients. In 1999 he received a Social Services Foundation (Pre BSW) Diploma from College of New Caledonia. Before, during and after his studies he worked as an Aboriginal Therapist at Apehtaw Kosisan Métis Child & Family Support Society. In 2000, he worked as a counsellor, group facilitator/cultural advisor at Orman Lake Healing Camp for Carrier Sekani Family Services. Since 2008 Earl has taught an Indigenous counselling course biannually for UNBCs M.Ed. Counselling program both locally in Prince George and at satellite campuses in Terrace and Fort St. John. From 2011-2012 he worked for the Aboriginal Child &Youth Wellness team at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.

Leadership in Research and Education: After an interdisciplinary Masters of Anthropology, Education and First Nation Studies in 2008 focusing his thesis on "Listening to the Spirit Voices: Honoring Our Traditional Ways of Healing," Earl began teaching in the First Nations Studies program at UNBC. He has helped develop curriculum and introduced students in health professions to Indigenous worldviews. Earl has been directly involved with several Aboriginal research initiatives. He continues to be involved with the Cedar Project as an Elder. Since 2005 he has been involved in various projects including Knowledge Translation (UNBC), Métis Health (UBC Kelowna), Cultural Competency & Safety (College of the Rockies Cranbrook) and The Island Cache Research. Cultural Healing for Youth in Corrections: Earl’s involvement with the justice system began in 1987 as a Federal Parole officer. Since the 1990s, he has been bringing cultural teachings to youth and adults involved in corrections. For example, Earl has facilitated talking circles at KetsoYoh Men's Hostel and Halfway House and St. Patrick's Transition House in Prince George. Currently he contracts with the Prince George Youth Custody Centre and works with staff and youth integrating Aboriginal culture, ceremonies, and protocols into its programs. He also works directly with youth in corrections by holding sweats, pipe ceremonies, talking circles, feasts, and other traditional activities. Earl notes that some Aboriginal youth in corrections say that this is the first time they've been able to connect with their culture and gain pride in their First Nations identity. Earl has also been involved in gang prevention for Aboriginal youth by facilitating workshops for the Walk Tall Program (Carrier Sekani Family Services) this program uses connection to culture to prevent gang involvement among young people. In 2011, Earl facilitated two Tipi teaching workshops for youth at risk that focused on the values attached to each pole and the tipi structure in relation to individuals, families and communities.

Holyk, Dr. Travis

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Travis Holyk, Beeskih, is currently the Executive Director of Research, Primary Care and Strategic Services at Carrier Sekani Family Services, an organization responsible for health and social programing for eleven member First Nations in North central BC. Travis has been a leader in developing and administering innovative health and social programs that continue to have a positive and lasting effect in First Nations communities. He has overseen the research, implementation, and administration of programs such as Family Justice and Intensive Family Preservation. Thanks to his efforts families and communities now benefit from these services, which are designed to support a families’ capacity to care for their own children, and reduce the number of children in care. Travis oversees all quality assurance, accreditation and program evaluations at CSFS, thereby ensuring that all programs and services continue to evolve and meet their intended outcomes. He penned the CSFS Research Ethics policy and has been involved in research ethics for over a decade. Travis also administers an innovative model of primary care across an expansive geography, and has been guiding those services towards an interdisciplinary approach to wellness. As a lead researcher, and adjunct faculty member at UNBC, Dr. Holyk has coordinated multiple research projects, all of which have informed and improved services for First Nations communities. Some of the projects include: Educational Assessment, the role of traditional foods in dietary habits of Carrier Sekani communities, suicide prevention, health administration, bioethics and Child Welfare Governance. Publications include journal articles focused on First Nations’ trust of the medical system, youth suicide, parents’ understanding of the school assessment system and traditional forms of dispute resolution as well as a book chapter on youth suicide.

Lowan-Trudeau, Gregory

Adjunct Professor

Greg Lowan-Trudeau is a Métis scholar, educator, husband, and father originally from southern Alberta. Childhood journeys on the lakes, rivers, mountains, and beaches of the West and exposure to cultural teachings and family stories inspired Greg to pursue a career as a culturally based outdoor and environmental educator. Over the past fifteen years he has combined academic study with professional practice and travel.

Greg’s doctoral studies were conducted through the University of Calgary with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Killam Trust. His research explored the identities, experiences, and pedagogical practices of Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental educators, community leaders, and activists who draw from Western, Indigenous, and other cultural perspectives.

Greg also holds bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology (and Japanese) from the University of Calgary and outdoor, ecological, and experiential education from Lakehead University where he also conducted his master’s research and worked as a contract lecturer.

Greg welcomes research collaborations and graduate students in areas such as Intercultural and Indigenous environmental studies and education; Indigenous resource and community planning; Métis history, culture, language, identity, and philosophy; and Japanese ecological knowledge and philosophy.

Nyce, Deanna

Adjunct Professor


Deanna Nyce has a Bachelor's Degree in Education as well as a Master's Degree in Educational Administration. Her research and publications have provided a template for Aboriginal curriculum development. Deanna has advocated for Aboriginal education with the BC Ministry of Education and has been a guest lecturer/instructor at many BC education institutions. Deanna, like the elders, felt that their people's future success depended on the education of their youth.  Deanna was one of the five key figures in the creation of the Wilp Wilxo'oskwhl Nisga'a (Nisga'a university-college) and its affiliation agreement with UNBC. As CEO of Nisga'a university-college, she oversees the operation of the institution, is responsible for educational planning and programming, and fostering affiliations with other post secondary institutions for program delivery in the Nass Valley.

In September 2004, Deanna was the recipient of the Aboriginal Woman of Distinction Award and the Forging of our Future with Education Award.

Sessional Instructors

Neilson, Leona


Phone: 250-960-5545

Leona is a Culture teacher for the Headstart program at the Native Friendship Centre. She has been in this position for a number of years. Leona has been teaching Cree Language at UNBC since 1996. She also teaches Cree Language to Elders and to children in the community. As well, she teaches Cree culture and language to elementary and high schools within the community. She also teaches about traditional plants and the way in which they can be utilized for medicinal purposes.

Leona has a diverse and versatile knowledge of making traditional crafts such as moccasins, dream catchers, drum making, rattles, and ribbon skirts.

Leona is from the Cree Nation and a mother of two daughters and also a proud grandmother of three grandchildren.

Prince, Nellie


Phone: 250-960-5595

Nellie is a Band member of Nak'azdli band, located in Fort St. James on the shores of Stuart Lake. She is of the Lusilyoo: Frog Clan. Nellie started studying the Carrier Language in 1972, transcribing from cassette tape of Legends and stories of Elders. She is fluent in the language and grew up speaking it. Nellie worked for Carrier Sekani Tribal Council as a Patient Liaison and at PGRH - 1986 – 1991. She also worked in Family Care with the First Nations families here in P.G. Nellie has 5 children and one grandson. She has been at UNBC since 2001. Tube mussi noh dusni. Snachalhya.