UBCO master’s student Sandra Fox is being recognized with a Governor General’s Gold Medal for her research on Indigenous identity which led to several recommendations for Canadian universities to better serve Indigenous students. (Contributed)

UBCO master’s student Sandra Fox is being recognized with a Governor General’s Gold Medal for her research on Indigenous identity which led to several recommendations for Canadian universities to better serve Indigenous students. (Contributed)

UBCO student, a Salmon Arm grad, to receive Governor General’s medal

Sandra Fox’s research on colonization and Indigenous identities prompted changes at universities

Sandra Fox’s research on the effects of colonization on Indigenous identities has been recognized with one of the highest honours a university graduate student in Canada can receive.

On Tuesday, June 1, it was announced the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) student and Salmon Arm Secondary graduate was chosen to receive a Governor General’s Gold Medal for having the most outstanding academic record in a thesis-based graduate program.

Fox, a Master of Arts student, has been pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies. Focused on community engagement, social change and equity, Fox delved into investigating how various factors shape and have shaped the identities of Indigenous peoples, starting with the effects of colonization.

“Originally, it was just us here so there was no need to identify as First Nations,” Fox in a June 1 UBCO media release. “It wasn’t until the settlers came that we began being labelled, so my research looked at how that, the Indian Act, and other social factors have impacted how we view ourselves.”

Fox also looked at colonialism in the education system.

“For good or ill, the system was built on colonial foundations. Just because we’re not going to residential schools anymore doesn’t mean we aren’t attending colonial institutions — we’re told we must speak English or French, we have to leave our hearts and spirits at the door.

“That’s not to say progress isn’t being made, there seems to be a genuine appetite for change, but change takes time.”

Fox’s supervisor, Anthropology Professor Dr. Mike Evans, said the award couldn’t go to a more deserving person, referring to Fox as being deeply thoughtful and reflective about the processes of research and writing.

“Her research is an example of the fine work emerging from contemporary Indigenous studies scholarship,” commented Evans.

After high school, Fox initially enrolled in the sciences but eventually found her passion in anthropology.

According to UBCO, after earning her Bachelor of Arts, Fox began working for local Indigenous organizations, including as an Aboriginal student advisor with the university’s Aboriginal Programs and Services.

“When I worked as an Aboriginal Student Advisor, I was early in my identity journey,” comments Fox in a UBCO biography about her. “Although I was comfortable with who I was as a First Nations person, I didn’t completely understand the historical issues.”

Read more: Historic Salmon Arm fair turns to technology for 2021

Read more: Children’s shoes line Vernon courthouse steps in memory of 215

It was during her work as a student advisor that Fox found her path in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies.

“Fox’s research led to the creation of a series of recommendations for universities, with the aim to better serve Indigenous peoples,” reads the UBCO release. “Those recommendations include the creation of an Indigenous cultural safety orientation for all university students, and increasing the number of designated Indigenous spaces on Canadian university campuses.”

Fox describes her research as a labour of love, and said it was the Indigenous students she partnered with that kept her going until the end.

“They were such a motivator for me,” said Fox. “They gave me their time and vulnerability, so I felt a responsibility to do the research well and ensure their voices were heard.”

Fox said receiving the recognition means a lot, especially to her family.

“Education was used as a tool to take away so much from our people,” said Fox. “Being able to come back and use it as a way to try and heal from that — it’s incredibly empowering.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon Arm

Just Posted

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

Kelowna Cabs’ dispatchers will be coming back to work now that their union and the taxi company have come to an agreement. (Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs dispatchers set to go back to work

The taxi company and the dispatchers’ union have reached an agreement

t
Motorcyclist critically injured in Westside Road collision

Motorcyclist collides with vehicle, struck by another: preliminary police findings

People at the beach in front of Discovery Bay Resort on Tuesday, July 14. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Heat wave forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Temperatures are forecast to hit record breaking highs this week

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Kelowna mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead

Pair discovered in their Vancouver Island home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Most Read