Verna J. Kirkness

Honorary Chair

A lifelong advocate of Indigenous education, Verna Kirkness created new learning opportunities for Canada’s Indigenous people through her work as a teacher, counselor, consultant and professor. As the first education director for what is now the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations, she played a pivotal role in the development of the MIBs position paper, Wahbung: Our Tomorrows and the 1972 landmark policy of Indian Control of Indian Education. As a professor at the University of British Columbia, she worked to extend new programs, support services and cultural enrichment to Indigenous students. Verna has written and edited eight books and is published extensively in academic journals. She has received numerous awards, including the Order of Canada in 1998.