We are grateful to work with a number of Elders and knowledge keepers, depending on which class or event is being held, and their availability. The Aboriginal Stream, designed at the request of community, has always been co-created with Elders.Some of these amazing community leaders who have taught us a great deal recently are, Lillian Howard, Harlan Pruden, Oldhands and Bruce Robinson.
We are honoured to have Lillian as an Elder for the Aboriginal Stream at Douglas College. She brings a wealth of life experience, education, knowledge, tradition and honesty to our work.
More about Lillian:
“My name is Lillian Howard and I am from the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation and of Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Tlingit ancestry. I reside in Vancouver and am an Indigenous, social and environmental justice advocate.”
Lillian is vice co-chair of the Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Peoples Advisory Committee and she also sits on the Vancouver Police Department Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Lillian is a member of the Butterflies in Spirit dance group which raises awareness and education of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/Girls and Men/Boys and is also the co-founder of the Uplifting Indigenous Families Fund which raises funds to assist families during and after the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She is very involved in the reconciliation process.
First Nations Cree scholar and activist.
Harlan Pruden (First Nation Cree/nēhiyaw) works with and for the Two-Spirit community locally, nationally and internationally. Currently, Harlan is a Ph.D. student at the University of British Columbia and is an Educator at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control’s Chee Mamuk, an Aboriginal health program. Harlan is also the Managing Editor of the TwoSpiritJournal.com, an interactive multi-platform Two-Spirit media/news site.
Before moving to Vancouver from New York City, Harlan was a co-founder and former Director of the NorthEast Two Spirit Society and the principal Two-Spirit consultant to USA’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center.
In August 2014, Harlan was appointed to the United States' Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS where he works to provide advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health & Human Services and the White House, and in the spring of 2013, Harlan was appointed to be an American representative to the International Indigenous Peoples Working Group on HIV/AIDS. Closer to home, Harlan is a board member of Qmunity, the home for Vancouver's LGBT, Queer and Two-Spirit community.
Aaron Johannes, CoordinatorÂ
I am grateful to be a visitor on Coast Salish territories and to live on the unceded lands of the QayQayt people. That my grandfather came from the Garden River Metis community was a closely guarded secret until recently, and learning about it make sense of certain ideas, acts and silences. We are still figuring it out. My other ancestors came to Canada from Germany, and France.
Until recently I was a Director at Spectrum Society for 30 years. Over that time I did every job from working every shift to management to program development, family support and consulting. I retired in June 2019. My early academic work was in fine arts (drawing, painting and print-making), and then to SFU for a BA focused on minority literature and education theory, then a MA from Athabasca Integrated Studies program (focused on Equity Studies and Education). My Doctoral studies were jointly supervised by the Taos Institute and Vrje Institute Brussels, focused on critical disability studies and the use of arts-based inclusive research methods to examine leadership in the lives, groups and communities of people with disabilities. I am a Taos Associate, which means that I am one of about 200 scholars interested in social constructionism around the world. I have consulted, facilitated, presented at conferences and done training and workshops from Texas to New York state, and up as far north as Ft. St. Johns, and collaborated with about 100 organizations. More recently I have been loving working with schools and children. I am the author, co-author, illustrator and/or editor of thirteen books and a reader for The Journal of Integrated Studies, where I specialise in education, arts-based research and sociological theory, particularly that which is based on alternative sources. I am currently working on a book about history, practices and future of person centred planning as an emancipatory practice. I have been an active volunteered with B.C. People First, TASH, the B.C. Family Support Institute, on various boards on as vice president of the board of Unity of New Westminster and on my daughter’s micro-board.
My Douglas College career began with the Disability and Community Studies faculty, and in 2017 I began working with the Aboriginal Stream, teaching a version of a course I had been teaching in supporting families, through an indigenous lens, with elders, and then took on the position of coordinator. Indigenous pedagogy is a sustaining passion for me. Working with students is my avocation, particularly those who return later in life, as I did, and those who are the first in their families to come to a college, as I was, and those who are marginalized for whatever reason, as I was. My partner and I have fostered and/or adopted six children, who have had various labels. My mother’s spirit, given her absolute intolerance for unfairness and inequity, is at the heart of everything I do and I suspect my grandfather’s teachings were at the centre of her being in this and all things.
We raise our hands to our dedicated Advisory Circle members. The Aboriginal Stream could not be what it is today without their knowledge and guidance.