About Verna Kirkness

Meet Verna J. Kirkness

Verna J. Kirkness is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba. She is a lifelong advocate of Indigenous Education and has created many learning opportunities for Indigenous people at all levels. Her work to extend new programs, access and support services, and cultural enrichment have been the foundation on which scholars have continued to build.


Dr. Kirkness has written and edited nine books, one being her autobiography, entitled Creating Space and has published numerous articles on Indigenous education in academic journals in Canada and internationally. For more than five decades she has been a major spokesperson for Indigenous education. Her work has been recognized in numerous honours and awards. In 1990 she was voted Canadian Educator of the Year, in 1994 she received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now Indspire) for Education. She is a member of the Order of Canada (1998) and the Order of Manitoba (2007). She was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2003 and has six honorary doctorates.

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