Indigenous Student Centre

Meet the Elders

T'it'elem Spath (Eddie Gardner)

Eddie graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island with a Bachelor of Arts in 1972.  A member of the Skwah First Nation, he works with others in the community to identify and address environmental issues and the protection of wild salmon.

Over the years, Eddie has worked for a variety of federal, provincial, and First Nations governments and private sector agencies across Canada, designing, coordinating, directing, and delivering a broad range of services and programs from an Aboriginal world view.  He has also organized many conferences related to the Indian Residential Schools and has provided support to the schools' survivors. 

Committed to the revival of the Halq'eméylem language, he has gained intermediate fluency of the language and encourages others to do so too.  Through his monthly sweat lodge ceremonies and Medicine Wheel workshops, Eddie spreads his knowledge of Stó:lo culture and traditions to the UFV community and beyond.


Kumiga (Theresa Neel)Theresa Neel 176x203

Theresa is a member of the Kwakiutl First Nation from northern Vancouver Island.  She graduated from Fraser Valley College in 1980 with a
 diploma in Social Services. 

For the next 30 years, Theresa worked for Stó:lo communities and UFV helping Aboriginal students access and succeed in post-secondary programs.  In 1998, with the guidance of a community steering committee, she opened the Aboriginal Resource Centre at UFV's Chilliwack campus.

An avid volunteer, Theresa donates her time to many causes.  Since 2000, she has worked with Snowchange, an international collective that documents snow pattern changes in Indigenous communities around the world. 

Always focused on student success, Theresa also works in the SFU and NVIT Elders' programs.


Rene InksterPhoto of Rene Inkster

Born into a distinguished prairies Métis family, Rene Inkster has devoted her life to social justice, equality, and education. As a child and youth she advocated for children’s and women’s rights, and as a single parent, she strove for workplace equality for women. She put herself through university while raising a family so as to work in education. Retired from direct teaching today, she is an Indigenous education program developer and international conference speaker, working to integrate First Peoples studies into classrooms.

Rene works with other organizations to strengthen the community. She is a retired long-term member of Fraser Valley University’s Aboriginal Community Council, and was a member of the UFV BA Indigenous Studies degree curriculum creation task committee, and a member of the District of Mission Community Education committee. She sat on the School District 75 (Mission) Siwal Si’wes Advisory Committee for many years. She is recognized internationally as an Indigenous Elder. For many years she has been involved in advocacy for recognition of Native rights, and on recognition of the Métis as one of Canada’s founding cultures. 

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