Interim Academic Director, Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC)

Open Date June 06, 2022
Close Date July 07, 2022

Professor Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) will be stepping down from the position of Academic Director, Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC), on June 30, 2022.

The University is now looking for a tenured or tenure-track faculty member to take up this important role. The deadline for applications is end of day Thursday July 7, 2022


The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) addresses the colonial legacy of residential schools and other policies imposed by the Canadian government on Indigenous peoples and ensures that this history is acknowledged, examined and understood within the UBC community. The Centre works with partners across disciplines at UBC and beyond to facilitate dialogues and access to records and information that support engaging the legacies of the residential school system and the continuing impacts of colonialism in Canada. This work supports teaching and learning at UBC, and the goals of UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP), by supporting Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination and working in partnership with partners and communities. The Centre is quickly establishing itself as a leading institution for culturally informed, reciprocal, community-led research, education and dialogues in collaboration with Indigenous communities, Survivors and UBC. As a Survivor-centered, trauma-informed space, the Centre works in service to Indigenous communities and peoples of Canada.

The goals and activities of the IRSHDC are to:

  • Support access for Residential School Survivors and their families to their records in a safe, respectful and trauma-informed way
  • Engage with academic and community collaborators around issues of information and records to ensure that policies, practices, systems and protocols are collaboratively developed with Indigenous community partners
  • Support Indigenous communities in developing and recording their community narratives of residential and day school experiences, through access to records, and other supportive actions, including offering expertise on oral testimony collection
  • Support the collection of materials and oral histories of the Residential School Survivors, with a focus on British Columbia and Western Canada
  • Curate IRS records and information in the development of exhibitions and resources that support education, research, and public engagement through emergent technologies
  • Develop content and resources in collaborative ways to present different perspectives, develop new understandings, and support agency for those affected by the IRSS and its legacies
  • Facilitate meaningful and critical dialogue, host and convene conversations on subjects of importance and relevance to the residential school policy and legacy to promote knowledge, awareness and policy responses to address the harms of the legacy
  • Challenge hierarchies and colonial narratives to educate and inform in both practical and theoretical ways

There is a need to fill a part-time Interim Academic Director position to support the IRSHDC in meeting its goals and objectives. This position will be an interim position as the search for the Academic Director is underway.


The Interim Academic Director will provide academic and administrative leadership to the Centre. This role will function as a content expert and will guide the Centre’s work and planning. Duties and responsibilities will include the following:

  1. Assuring that the Centre serves as a place where Indian residential school survivors, their families, and their communities can access their Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) records and other relevant materials in a safe, supportive, and respectful environment and that families and those living with intergenerational trauma, visitors, and staff routinely working with traumatic histories are fully supported.
  2. Advancing the priorities of the IRSHC and ensuring connection and alignment of the IRSHDC to UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan and the TRC. This responsibility includes: providing strategic direction and oversight to the development of public and educational programming at the Centre, through Centre interactive technologies, supported remote site developments, and online; and, to ensure the agreements and understandings with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation are current and encourage innovative dialogue, exchange and address the entire legacy of the TRC.
  3. Engaging, initiating, supporting, and convening conversations and colloquia among multiple parties such as Indigenous communities and organizations, various academic parties, government organizations, and others that advance thinking on, and implementing trauma-informed strategies; and supporting Indigenous/academic relations, the Calls to Action of the TRC, and a respectful acknowledgement of Indigenous rights and the development of sustainable communities. This duty may include advising on the design and creation of innovative strategies and solutions that improve Indigenous people’s engagement, relations, and networks; or providing advice on targeted Indigenous initiatives related to the ISP.
  4. Partnering with UBC Central Communications to coordinate and respond to sensitive media requests, especially regarding records, and speaking publicly on behalf of the IRSHDC.

The administrative appointment as Interim Academic Director within the IRSHDC is a shared (75%) position with a reporting line to the Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President Academic Affairs at UBC Vancouver. This assignment will be an interim appointment as the search begins for the longer-term Academic Director. The appointment is for twelve months, commencing as soon as possible, and will end June 30, 2023, with the possibility of extension. The incumbent will continue his/her home department/school appointment, and arrangements will be made with the respective department/school to support the secondment. The posting is open to all tenured faculty members with a UBC appointment and relevant experience and expertise.


The successful candidate will be a UBC faculty member with outstanding academic credentials and proven leadership and administrative abilities. The incumbent must have a strong external focus and the ability to engage, build and maintain relationships with survivor and indigenous communities as well as other local and national Centre’s. 

The ideal candidate will have: a strong commitment to excellence in research, learning and service; a strategic, innovative and participatory leadership style; and a proven collaborative management approach.

The successful applicant will have the following characteristics:

  • Strategic Thinker: Broad, strategic understanding and vision for developing, focusing and enhancing the IRSHDC and its activities and ensuring alignment with UBC strategic plans such as the ISP.
  • Relationship Building, Engagement, and Convening Dialogue: Strong interpersonal and engagement skills. Ability to build and sustain effective relationships with indigenous survivors and communities. Ability to work with inter-governmental agencies (e.g. NCTR) on relevant topics and collaborate with internal partners such as VP External and Government Relations.
  • Expertise and Understanding: Understanding of the history of residential and day schools, related records, TRC calls to action, and community narratives. Maintaining a research agenda related to relevant topics would be ideal.
  • Leadership Skills: An effective and resourceful leader and motivator of people who acts with integrity; team-oriented and collaborative with the ability to build consensus.
  • Advocacy and Support: Ability to support and inform indigenous advisory committees, and create a culturally safe space to foster and support respectful relations. Strong advocate for enabling access to records.
  • Media Savvy: Comfort with and ability to speak publicly on sensitive topics, especially concerning media requests for records.

Interested candidates are invited to submit a statement of interest that addresses the above points, a curriculum vitae, and the names of three referees by end of day Thursday July 7, 2022 to:

Dr. Jan Hare

cc.  Moura Quayle

All correspondence will be treated in strict confidence. Interested parties are encouraged to contact us with any enquiries. The position has an anticipated start date of July 2022; however, the start date is flexible.

Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.

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