University of the Fraser Valley

Lieutenant Governor’s Medal: Lisa Doell creates spaces for discussion and learning about Indigenous topics

Lieutenant Governor’s Medal: Lisa Doell creates spaces for discussion and learning about Indigenous topics

Lisa Doell has learned a lot by taking the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program at the University of the Fraser Valley, but she’s also done more than a little teaching.

For her efforts to help her professors and fellow students understand Indigenous culture and the issues faced by Indigenous people, Doell is this year’s recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s medal at UFV. The criteria includes student involvement in promoting diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.

“Lisa’s most important contributions to each course emerged during discussions of Indigenous cultures, colonial history, reconciliation, or decolonization. As an Indigenous person, Lisa always had a lot to share and she did so in an even-handed, welcoming, and thoughtful way,” noted Geoffrey Carr, an associate professor in UFV’s School of Creative Arts who supported Doell’s nomination for the medal.

When asked about her willingness to share and lead discussion about Indigenous culture, history, and current affairs, Doell says it’s important to her to do so.

“I like to create space where questions can happen,” she says. “As the educational system moves towards implementing Indigenous practices and ideas into its curriculum, I often noticed gaps in understanding. If I can help clarify or help establish understanding and promote exploration of Indigenous ideas, and help to create a space where questions are happily and thoroughly answered, why wouldn’t I?”

Doell wears many hats when it comes to her own connection to Indigenous matters. She is Cree and a member of the  Waterhen First Nation Band in Saskatchewan. She was adopted and raised in a non-Indigenous family along with two adopted brothers who shared her Cree heritage.

As a child she was raised alongside the people of the Katzie First Nation people in Langley and learned about Stó:lō culture through Indigenous-focused programs in school.

“The Indigenous programs in my schools and community  were very strong in teaching us the culture of the Stolo,” she says. “I was selected to participate in many leadership and cultural conferences, activities and programs. I feel as though my life experience has given me a broad understanding of the world.”

As a young adult she worked as an Aboriginal cultural facilitator in the Surrey School District, and then an Aboriginal education assistant for the Chilliwack School District.

“This further cultivated my relationships with the Indigenous community and lit a fire inside of me to learn and teach the youth. As a cultural presenter my job entailed just that, creating engaging presentations and implementing cultural teachings. I found that I could effectively articulate what I had learned to students and family members and talk about the hard topics in a meaningful and helpful way. At UFV, I continued this practice with my teachers and fellow classmates, promoting healing and inclusion. I believe that understanding our collective past ensures empathy in the present and creates opportunity for the future.”

After working for more than a decade, Doell enrolled in UFV’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program with the end goal of becoming a teacher. Now that she’s graduating, she’s considering other career options as well, but may return to earn her teaching qualification. While taking the BFA program, she focused on sculpting, painting, and photography.

She says that it’s an honour to receive the Lieutenant Governor’s medal.

“I am honoured that my way of interacting has been recognized and that my expression has made a positive impact on the community around me.”