College of the Rockies announces new members of Indigenous team

Director, Indigenous Strategy and Reconciliation, and Indigenous Education Coordinator welcomed

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New members of College of the Rockies' Indigenous team (l-r) Jo Ann Smith and Karen Smith, look forward to working with the Ktunaxa Nation to continue to improve the education experience for Indigenous learners in our region.

New members of College of the Rockies' Indigenous team (l-r) Jo Ann Smith and Karen Smith, look forward to working with the Ktunaxa Nation to continue to improve the education experience for Indigenous learners in our region. — Photo courtesy College of the Rockies

College of the Rockies Vice President Academic and Applied Research, Heather Hepworth, is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Smith as Director, Indigenous Strategy and Reconciliation, and Jo Ann Smith as Indigenous Education Coordinator and Advisor.

Karen Smith holds a Bachelor of Education degree and began her teaching career at East Kootenay Community College (now College of the Rockies) in 1984 in the Adult Upgrading and English Language programs. She also worked as a teacher, principal, and director of education within the Ktunaxa Nation in the ʔaq̓am and yaqan nuʔkiy communities, as well as a principal at Tl’etinqox School in Alexis Creek, B.C.

“I look forward to bringing my knowledge and experience working with Indigenous communities and students of all ages to my new role,” she said. “In the spirit of reconciliation, one of my key goals is to work closely with the Ktunaxa Nation to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into all aspects of the College’s learning community.”

Jo Ann Smith has worked at College of the Rockies for six years in various roles, including coordinating the Adult Upgrading in Community program with the Ktunaxa Nation.  She brings a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education and a master’s degree in Leadership and Training to her new role, in which she will be responsible for supporting students and working with faculty to help the College move forward to achieve the education-related Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“I am excited to work with Karen and the rest of the College community toward enhancing a learning environment where all Indigenous people feel welcome and supported,” she said.

“I am pleased to welcome Karen and Jo Ann to their new roles at the College of the Rockies,” said Codie Morigeau, Director of the Ktunaxa Nation Council Education and Employment Sector. “Both Karen and Jo Ann are long-time allies with the Ktunaxa Nation, consistently demonstrating their commitment, care and creativity to improve the education experience for the aboriginal learners living within Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis.”

“We value our close relationship with Indigenous people in our region,” Hepworth said. “Work to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into our curriculum is already underway; we have opened our classrooms to Ktunaxa Elders and Knowledge Holders, and we are working to help revitalize the Ktunaxa language through the offering of Ktunaxa language classes for credit. The experience Karen and Jo Ann bring to their roles will be valuable in helping College of the Rockies to continue to strengthen pathways for Indigenous student success.”

Learn more about Indigenous Education services at College of the Rockies: cotr.ca/indigenous

About College of the Rockies

For more than 40 years, College of the Rockies has provided post-secondary education that meets the needs and aspirations of the people, industry and businesses of our region. Each year, we welcome more than 2,300 full-time equivalent students into a full range of programs, including: skilled trades, university studies, adult upgrading, early childhood education, health and human services, business, office administration, tourism, hospitality, recreation, fire services, continuing education and contract training. Through smaller class sizes, highly-personalized instruction and dedicated support services, our students are primed to succeed in the job market, or in the next stage of their academic journey.

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