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. 26

Every year exceptional Langarans are recognized through the Outstanding Alumni Awards. Past winners include comedian Colin Mochrie, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, and broadcast journalist Simi Sara.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

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    Kelley Lee

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    Dr. Kelley Lee is an internationally renowned expert in global health, named among the world’s 50 key thinkers on globalization, 100 Women Leaders in Global Health, and top Canadian Women in Global Health List in 2018. She joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in 2011 as Associate Dean, Research and Director of Global Health. She is currently a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Health Governance. Her research focuses on the need to strengthen collective action to address global health challenges including tobacco control, communicable disease outbreaks, and antimicrobial resistance. She is presently co-leading a project, in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority, to study commercial tobacco use in five BC First Nations communities. Prior to SFU, she was a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK where she spent over 20 years. She was a core member of two major studies at the World Health Organization, co-establishing the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Change and Health, and chairing the WHO Resource Group on Globalization, Trade, and Health. She has authored over 120 peer reviewed papers, 60 book chapters, and 14 books. She is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

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  • Patricia Woods

    Patricia Woods

    Current Employee | Nurse Educator

    Patricia has been teaching nursing for over 20 years with strong focus on health equity, advocacy, and nursing globalism. She was formerly the Assistant Chair of the Langara Nursing department. Patricia was part of the initiative that created the first-ever Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Leadership and Management for international nurses in Western Canada. She was also the Coordinator of the Continuing Studies Health Care Assistant program, which was the first educational partnership between Musqueam First Nation and Langara College. The program prepared Indigenous students to provide elder care in their community and to pursue a career in health care. Additionally, Patricia led Langara’s smoke-free campus initiative as Co-Chair of the Smoke-free Committee. She has received many awards including Langara’s Leadership Excellence Award in 2014; the Award for Excellence in Nursing Education (non-tenured) in 2015 from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing; and the Nursing Advocacy Award from the Association of Registered Nurses of BC in 2015. As the epitome of a lifelong learner, Patricia is currently pursuing a PhD in Nursing at the University of Victoria.

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  • Haisla Collins

    Haisla Collins

    Langara Alum | Indigenous Arts Advocate

    Haisla is an artist, musician, teacher, and community leader. She is an Indigenous expressionist artist working out of Raven’s Eye Studio. She also serves as the Community Leader for Indigenous Women Artists, a collective that brings together female Indigenous artists for collaborative works, art shows, workshops, and community projects. This year, the collective won the Creative City Strategy Grant from the City of Vancouver to do a residency at the Roundhouse Community Centre and had shows at Gallery Gachet and Britannia Library Art Gallery. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, spent six years training with performance coach and renowned jazz singer Ron Small, and for the last 13 years has been the lead singer and harmonica player for the blues and roots band “Haisla with Nasty, Brutish and Short”. A champion of the community and the arts, Haisla has been a Project Manager at The Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts, Coordinator of the Aboriginal Artisan Program at Carnegie Community Centre, and Director of Raven’s Eye Mentorship Program. She is best known for her work on mural Spirits of the Realms and Through the Eye of the Raven and this year she won the City of Vancouver Indigenous mural contest to produce Sisters, Daughters, Clan Mothers - Honouring Indigenous Women which will be displayed at the central Vancouver Public Library in fall 2019.

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