Dr. Sharon Hobenshield’s (EdD) ancestry is Gitxsan First Nation on her Mother’s side and Austrian-Canadian on her Dad’s. She works at Vancouver Island University as the Director of the Office of Aboriginal Education and Engagement. Sharon completed her Doctor of Education degree at UBC in Policy and Educational Leadership in 2016. Her research focused on the values and traditions embedded in the Indigenous practice of gift giving and how this tradition can inform the work of Indigenization in post-secondary education.
What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education?
My most memorable experience was defending my thesis. Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald was my supervisor and her advice was to enjoy it, and I did. I was nervous of course, but my parents were there, along with my husband, children and other family and friends. I felt supported and loved. The Chief of my Wilp was also in attendance, and after the committee finished with their questions, he spoke and validated my work (he was also one of the contributors to my research). It was important to me that my research was relatable and authentic to the people that informed it but also balanced with meeting the academic rigor or the academy.
Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?
I am more grounded and confident working within an Indigenous paradigm and providing leadership in an academic environment. I will always be learning but through my research journey, I gained a deeper understanding of the embedded values and principles that inform Indigenous knowledges. I see my role and responsibility going forward as an Indigenous person and educator to ensure that I consistently come from a principled approach — to live a life seeking goodness within myself and in all my relationships with all things.
Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?
Inclusion is central to my work. My goal is to uphold and advocate for Indigenous knowledge systems alongside all other forms of knowledge. I want students to come into post-secondary education singing their songs and sharing their stories, knowing they belong. That their history, knowledge and ways of being are recognized and valued as having a contribution to make for all.
Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Newly graduated folks?
I will express similar words that were shared with me: To current students, enjoy the journey. It is such a gift to be able to learn and develop our hearts, minds and spirits. To new graduates, acknowledge the people who shared their teachings with you and remember to give back. The Elders, Community and Youth will be watching and it won’t be as much as what you say but what you do, that will have an impact.