49 Langarans

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Wawmeesh Hamilton

Langara Alum | Journalist

Award-winning journalist Wawmeesh Hamilton is no stranger to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

He lived there once himself, having ran away from home as a teenager, and now returns periodically for nostalgic visits.

The Langara College Journalism program graduate also returns there for his work, which involves advocating for increased, deeper journalism in Canada about Indigenous people, communities and issues.

In June, he walked through the homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park, where at least 100 people are living in tents located between Powell and Cordova streets. He was chronicling the work of a Vancouver First Nations outreach worker originally from Kitimat who works in the area he once got high in, but now encourages people to seek supports.

“His job was to walk through the whole Downtown Eastside looking for his own people, to connect with them, to encourage them to seek services, detox and treatment,” Hamilton said. “That’s when we went through the homeless camp.

“It wasn’t the first time I’d been through the park, but it was the first time I met some of the inhabitants.”

After meeting inhabitants of the park, Hamilton noticed that most of them were Indigenous. He hadn’t seen mention of that fact in Canadian mainstream media, so he made a mental note.

“Two things struck me,” he said. “One was, who are these people and what First Nations are they from? Second, where are the Assembly of First Nations, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit in all of this? Are they helping?”

With these questions in mind, he returned to the tents with his recorder and interviewed the inhabitants. Many people told him they felt forgotten by their leaders.

The web and radio stories were published on Nov. 5, and Hamilton hopes they will lead to further involvement by the three major political Indigenous groups in the province.

“It remains to be seen what the Assembly of First Nations and other groups will do with this,” he said. “If or how they get involved is up to them.”

That being said, Hamilton hopes they will decide to “wade into the fray.”

He also said the stories are a good reminder of why he continues working as a journalist.

“Speaking for people who have no voice, defending people who can’t defend themselves and holding bodies accountable that have influence over the lives of marginalized people, those things remind me why I got into journalism,” he said. “It’s the difference you can make.”

Courtesy of Black Press Media

49 Facts — NO. 4

In 1978, Langara established a relationship with Takushoku University in Tokyo, Japan, which has become one of the longest running Japanese-Canadian educational partnerships in history. Over 800 students have participated in a study abroad experience through the program.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Lynn Carter

    Lynn Carter

    Retired Employee | Faculty Leader & Social Advocate

    Lynn was a Social Services instructor at Langara for 35 years. While at Langara, Lynn served as Department Chair, was Langara’s first Education Council Chair, and the President of the Langara Faculty Association from 2007 until her retirement in 2018. Her influence on the College can still be felt in the policies and processes she helped to guide and develop, including her work to bring the University of Northern British Columbia Bachelor of Social Work program to the Langara campus. An advocate for children and families she was a leader within the social services community through her work with various government organizations and commissions, including the Ministry of Children and Families, the Gove of Inquiry into Child Protection Commission, the Board of Registration for Social Workers, Open Learning Agency, and Family Services of Vancouver. A passionate volunteer, Lynn has chaired BC Benefit Tribunals; as a Chairperson for Vocation, Rehabilitation, and Disabled Persons Appeals; and as a member of the Panel Roster of the Complaints Division, of the Children’s Commission. In addition, she served as Chair of the Board of the Greater Vancouver Community Services Society. She currently serves on the Board as Vice Chair of the RainCity Housing and Support Society.

  • Wawmeesh Hamilton

    Wawmeesh Hamilton

    Langara Alum | Journalist

    Wawmeesh is an Associate Producer with CBC Radio Vancouver. He is a contributing writer for CBC Indigenous, CBC Radio, The Tyee, and the National Observer. Wawmeesh was also a reporter and photographer at The Discourse, where he wrote about reconciliation and urban Indigenous people and issues. A graduate of the Langara Journalism program and the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, Wawmeesh is an advocate for increased deeper journalism in Canada about Indigenous people, communities and issues. He has worked with Journalists for Human Rights to cover Indigenous youth projects across Canada and he lectures nationally to journalism students about deepening their knowledge about Indigenous people and communities and about creating relationships with them. He was the architect of and contributor to the 2018 Jack Webster Award-nominated The Discourse — CBC Indigenous Series Reconciliation in small towns: Is it happening? He has also won multiple awards for both his writing and photography from the BC-Yukon Community Newspaper Association and the Canadian Community Newspaper Association.

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  • Judy Boxler

    Judy Boxler

    Retired Employee | Problem Solver

    Judy is the founder and developer of the Langara Computer Technology Diploma program. She was the original computer science coordinator in Langara’s Math, Statistics and Computer Science department, and became the first Department Chair of the Computer Science when it became its own independent department. She also served in various academic leadership capacities, including Division Chair of Math and Sciences and as a member of the Langara Faculty Association Board for several years. Outside of Langara, she has volunteered with agencies such as the BC Cancer Agency, One to One Literacy, and St. John Hospice at UBC. Judy now lives on Pender Island where she volunteers as Duty Officer in the emergency program, serves as a Member of the Board of Directors at the Pender Post, and serves as Librarian on the Board of Directors of the Pender Island Choir.

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