The First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) has announced its new Vice President, Academic. As of June 1st, 2023, Dr. Shalene Wuttunee Jobin will begin the transition into the role replacing the interim VP, Academic, Dr. Jesse Archibald-Barber.
Jobin comes to FNUniv from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Native Studies.
“I’m really excited to work for a university that belongs to First Nations (peoples),” she said.
Jobin grew up in the Edmonton area, Treaty 6 territory, but on the Alberta side. She is a proud member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Her mother is Cree, from the Wuttunee family, and her father is Métis, (Jobin).
Jobin’s research focuses on Indigenous governance and Indigenous economic systems. She holds the prestigious Canada Research Chair (in Indigenous governance at the Faculty of Native Studies), and was the founding director of the Indigenous governance program at the University of Alberta. She recently published a book titled, Upholding Indigenous Economic Relationships: Nehiyawak Narratives – published by UBC Press.
“She has moved up the academic ladder from undergraduate, to master’s, to doctorate, so she understands the university systems and the academic world”, said the President of FNUniv, Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann. Ottmann says Jobin brings a Cree perspective, and she understands Indigenous knowledge systems.
“It is important to recognize Dr. Jobin’s roots in Saskatchewan,” said Ottmann, “She participates in ceremonies, and works with Indigenous communities, and prioritizes community-based research.”
Jobin says that one of the teachings she carries with her in her new role is that of Indigenous mentorship.
“In our Indigenous societies, the Older ones would observe the gifts in the younger ones and help nurture those gifts for their future roles.”
“It has been such a privilege to be a teacher and an educator, and to have been able to see my students, see their gifts, and then see the lightbulb moment when they discover what they are passionate about, and then help support them in nurturing their gifts.”
Having women in senior leadership at FNUniv is important said Ottmann, because it mirrors the prominent role that Indigenous women have had in education.
“It sends a strong message about the capabilities and limitlessness of women,” says Ottmann, “It provides hope and inspiration.”
The VP, Academic at FNUniv is responsible for academic programming and research areas. Jobin will work with faculty, help strengthen academic and research programming, while also working with the University of Regina. She will also continue to meet the responsibilities that FNUniv has to the province of Saskatchewan, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), and Indigenous Services Canada.
“For us, our foundation is our Indigenous knowledge systems,” says Ottmann.
“So, that positions us in a very unique way, within the Canadian post-secondary landscape. We are already an Indigenous university, so our path forward looks different than most universities.”
Jobin has won many accolades and awards in her career including the 2020 Community Scholar Award from the University of Alberta, and the 2022 Distinguished Indigenous Alumni Award from the University of Victoria.
She holds a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies – in political science and Indigenous studies, from the University of Alberta, a master’s degree in Indigenous governance, from the University of Victoria, and an undergraduate degree in commerce.
Ottmann says the future goals of the position will focus on strengthening and expanding programming and options for all students to ensure that it supports the development of Indigenous communities. In addition, it will keep inspiring faculty to motivate students through their teaching while encouraging meaningful research projects, and to have members of the university community share the good work that happens at First Nations University of Canada through publishing.
“Indigenous voices really need to be heard throughout Canada, in all areas,” says Dr. Ottmann.
“Our stories need to be centred and uplifted – and I know this is something that Dr. Jobin can help us do.”