February 15, 2023
Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet received the 2023 Great Trekker Award at the UBC Alma Mater Society Awards Gala on February 16, 2023 in recognition of her lifetime of leadership and devotion to creating a space for Indigenous education to thrive.
Dr. Billy-Minnabarriet is of the St’uxwtews (Bonaparte Indian Band) and raised in the Secwepemc and Nlaka’pamux territories and the Senior Advisor to the Dean on Indigenous Education at the UBC Faculty of Education.
The Great Trekker Award, commemorating the spirit of UBC students since 1950, is given to a UBC graduate who has achieved eminence in their field, made worthy contributions to their community and has a keen interest in their alma mater.
For more than 40 years, Dr. Billy-Minnabarriet (EdD’12 Aboriginal Education Leadership) has been a passionate advocate for change through policy and structure. Her advocacy for advancing and funding of Indigenous education has empowered and strengthened Indigenous peoples through community-based education and economic development.
In my lifetime, I have gone from being told I could not attend university because of who I am—”Indigenous”—to receiving this award. To all the Indigenous Intellectual Warriors behind us, present with us, and those to come: an education is something no one can take from you. Stand in pride, make your space, and change what you can for our children and theirs to come. All my Relations.
— Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, Senior Advisor to the Dean on Indigenous Education, UBC Faculty of Education
Her thoughtful counsel as Senior Advisor to the Dean of Education on Indigenous Education has imparted valuable insight into the Faculty’s Indigenous education programs and initiatives, aided in the recruitment and retention of Indigenous students and contributed to advancing the Faculty of Education strategic plan, Learning Transformed.
Through her work on the board of the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer and as the former Vice President of Academic and Strategic Partnerships at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, she has facilitated province-wide communication and cooperation among BC’s post-secondary institutions.
Future generations will benefit from her efforts as the former chair of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association and her continued participation on many provincial, national and international boards where she is influencing change—from policy development to ministry-appointed positions.
Congratulations, Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, on this well-deserved honour!