Len Pierre, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s manager of Indigenous services for students and member of the Katzie Nation, is leaving his position to become the cultural safety coordinator for the Fraser Health Authority. His last day at KPU is March 29.
Pierre, who has only been with the university for five months, says that he wasn’t expecting to leave KPU so soon. In his time as the manager of Indigenous services for students, he was able to help define the role of that office and how it can best serve Indigenous students on campus. He was also notably involved in a revitalization of the Aboriginal Gathering Place.
“I was so excited when he got hired because we had been without someone for a year,” says Sarah Strachan, Vice President Student Life and Indigenous Representative for the Kwantlen Student Association. “He has done such an amazing job bringing together the community and just being there listening and teaching.”
Pierre says he appreciates the keen interest that KPU students have in Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation.
“There is such motivation and desire to want to change the system,” he says. “The progressive approach of our students and the progressive drive of our students is very inspiring and has taught me a lot.”
He adds that Indigenous students are leading a lot of these conversations, and that he is looking forward to seeing how Indigenous culture at KPU will continue to flourish after he leaves.
In his position with the Fraser Health Authority, Pierre will be handling professional dialogue about cultural safety and designing curriculum for doctors, nurses, and executives. The health-care system can be harmful for Indigenous people who rely on these services—occasionally, health staff can have racist and stereotypical assessments of them. Pierre’s new position is to prevent that from happening and to create cultural humility.
According to Pierre, cultural humility is “about education and dismantling the colonial policies.” It provides a critical look at the colonial policies that could harm Indigenous people within the healthcare system and other colonial institutions.
Pierre doesn’t think his involvement at KPU is entirely finished. He may not be continuing in his position as Manager of Indigenous Services for Students, but he is still a part of the Indigenous community both in and outside of the university. He hopes to return to campus for talking circles and community sessions at the Gathering Place, and also plans on furthering his education by pursuing a master’s degree in teaching and facilitating.
“Huych:ca,” says Pierre, in the Halkomelem language of the Coast Salish people. He expresses his gratitude for people on the Indigenous Student Council, for Ethan Semple, and for all “our friends and allies at KPU.”
“Len has revitalized Indigenous Student Services, and that is imperative for not only the Indigenous community at Kwantlen but for everyone interested in truth and reconciliation,” says Samantha Jack, who recently founded KPU’s Indigenous Students Council. “It is because of his work that so many of us are inspired today to work for a better tomorrow.”
“We wish him the best with his new career track and we will always keep him close,” she adds.