Dr. Trudy Sable named Director of Indigenous Education at Saint Mary’s University
June 8, 2016
Saint Mary’s University announced this week the appointment of Dr. Trudy Sable as Director of Indigenous Education. The new position will provide leadership and support to advance Indigenous education at the university.
“Saint Mary’s has been making a big effort to reach out to the Indigenous communities both on-campus and throughout the Atlantic provinces, and this is another step in that advancement,” said Dr. Sable.
Dr. Sable has worked within Indigenous communities for over 25 years and has been the Director of the Office of Aboriginal and Northern Research at the Gorsebrook Research Institute since 2001. She is an adjunct professor of Anthropology at Saint Mary’s and a part-time teacher in the Atlantic Canada Studies program. Within the program she developed the Indigenous Peoples of Atlantic Canada: Contemporary Issues course, which she has taught for the past eight years. Dr. Sable also works internationally on Northern issues as the Saint Mary’s representative to the University of the Arctic’s Members Council.
As an avid admirer of art, dance and music, Dr. Sable’s original connection to Indigenous communities was through dance. Many visits to Indigenous communities to explore dancing and art also brought Dr. Sable to the centre of Indigenous issues, culture, and history. As she designed and facilitated innovative programs relating the arts and sciences, she stood at the crossroads of government agency policies, university research requirements, and Indigenous perspectives. Dr. Sable enabled multi-stakeholder dialogues that reflected respect and learning across cultures.
“When you get out there in the communities the connection to the land and its importance becomes truly apparent,” she said. “Their legends are in the land, their camp sites, their sources of food, clothing, and technology, their burial sites and it was really important to me to learn the dances, talk to the elders and connect with their culture.”
Salina Kemp is a member of the Millbrook First Nation and a 2016 Saint Mary’s University graduate entering her first year as an M.A. student at Saint Mary’s in the fall. During her initial time at Saint Mary’s she worked very closely with Dr. Sable.
“I was first introduced to Dr. Trudy Sable through our participation in the President’s Task Force; during which she demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues that matter to Indigenous students, she said. “Since then Dr. Sable has been a constant source of invaluable guidance and support with an open door policy and a willingness to make time for any question. With the encouragement of Dr. Sable I became involved in research that was relevant to my cultural background and discovered ways to engage with the university to achieve my educational goals.”
The appointment of a Director of Indigenous Education is another step in Saint Mary’s goal to make the university more inviting and accommodating to Indigenous students, faculty, staff and members of the general public. Other initiatives already undertaken include the creation of a space for Indigenous students on campus, flying the Mi’kmaw flag on special occasions, the signing of MOU’s with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, the Union of Nova Scotia Indians, and the Innu Nation of Labrador, the future hiring of full-time Indigenous student advisor, the creation of an Indigenous Advisory Council, and new curricula dedicated to Indigenous peoples culture and history.
“The acknowledgement and respect of all cultures is extremely important at Saint Mary’s,” said Robert Summerby-Murray, President of Saint Mary’s University. “We are honoured to have Dr. Sable accept this position and we look forward to working with her and our Indigenous students to bring increased awareness to Indigenous culture and history.”
Comments on the appointment
As a filmmaker I have worked with a lot of people over the years but few have shown the tenacity, generosity and enthusiasm for their work as Trudy Sable. She has helped so many people and communities in the North and here in Nova Scotia; her contribution is incalculable.
– Kent Martin, multi-award winning filmmaker and producer.
I have known and worked very closely with Dr. Trudy Sable for a number of years. Over the years we have shared in numerous conversations related to the necessity to enhance the quality of Indigenous educational opportunities.
Dr. Sable brings to her position as Director of Indigenous Education, a vast understanding and appreciation of ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ which is critical to enhancing educational opportunities for Indigenous students at Saint Mary’s University.
She has effectively linked western education theory and practice with Indigenous knowledge. I believe it was Dr. Marie Battiste (Mi’kmaw educator) who spoke of the necessity of blending the two educational practices, and commend Dr. Sable for having accomplished that.
If Saint Mary’s University is prepared to invest in Indigenous Education, then Dr. Sable is the appropriate individual to drive that vehicle forward.
– Roger Lewis, Curator of Ethnology, N.S. Museum, Sɨkɨpne’katik (Shubenacadie) First Nation