Campus Life - Kamloops  

Studying how to adapt to extreme fire weather

Even before BC Premier David Eby announced in April plans for research-informed training and education for wildfire fighters, research was already well underway at TRU’s Institute for Wildfire Science, Adaptation and Resiliency.

Master of science student Leona Shepherd is one of many graduate students working with renowned wildfire expert Dr. Mike Flannigan. Shepherd’s research project explores climate change and extreme fire weather.

“An extreme fire weather event is the period in time when the weather conditions are conducive to the rapidly spreading, high-intensity wildfires that can cause problems for fire management agencies and ultimately threaten communities,” she said.

Extreme fire weather is increasing in BC and around the world. Shepherd’s research will have a direct impact on this pressing challenge by contributing to inform future fire management.

“We’re kind of reaching this spot where we can’t just look to the past to inform what we’re going to be doing in the future. We really need to adapt and kind of change our practices and policies to what we expect to be seeing in the future,” said Shepherd.

“Using my research to say ‘Look, you know in 50 years we’re going to have twice as many or three times as many days where wildfire is a problem,’ I think that’s really valuable for long-term strategic planning.”

Watch the full video. Learn more about the Institute for Wildfire Science, Adaptation and Resiliency.

Massive map sheds fresh light on Canada’s Indigenous history

Widespread national and provincial borders, jagged terrain symbols, colourful waterways, oceans and seas — anyone who’s moved through the Canadian education system has studied a map of this country. Would perception of a place change if showed not only political and location details, but Indigenous language and culture?

Carolyn Anderson, faculty member in the School of Education, expects a recently obtained — and massive — educational resource to start meaningful conversations about Indigenous perspectives and worldviews on campus.

The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada Giant Floor Map by Canadian Geographic is enormous. At 11 metres by 8 metres, it covers about half of a gymnasium floor. The sheer size means it’s totally immersive and it doesn’t take long to notice this is unlike any map shown in schools. This atlas highlights Indigenous language groups, numbered treaties, Indigenous communities, reserves and residential schools across Canada. It is part of a kit that contains an Indigenous events timeline and lesson plans about issues like climate change, that are presented through different Indigenous lenses. The resource is designed for teachers to use in K-12 classrooms, and Anderson is looking forward to introducing it to her classes of future teachers.

“One of the problems new teachers face is they haven’t had many experiences learning about Indigenous perspectives and worldviews. They didn’t have an opportunity to learn about this in their K-12 and post-secondary experiences, unless they purposefully took an Indigenous-focused course, which are usually only offered as electives,” she says.

She’s also confident this map will be a valuable resource for faculty members on campus.

“It’s relevant to all professors because it helps to build upon understanding of First Peoples in Canada. It’s important for educators to examine their own biases about the country we live in and engage in opportunities to expand their vistas on Indigenous education and Canada through a different perspective,” Anderson says.

The resource is already spurring a lot of conversation and interest among students and faculty.

“It’s highly engaging for learners because they can stand on it, walk around. They can get down low and examine it. All 130 residential schools and all the reserves are there. When they are on their hands and knees exploring the map, it’s a different perspective of Canada they’ve never experienced. It opens their eyes that the country they’ve lived in can be seen from a totally different lens” she says.

Anderson recently showcased the atlas at a staff and faculty retreat for the Faculty of Education and Social Work, and it was impactful even to those who had seen it before, like faculty member Robert Wielgoz.

“My biggest takeaway from Carolyn’s session was a chance to reflect on change in society. It was powerful to look at the socio-political context at the year of my birth, my high school graduation, my kid’s birth, and reflect on my growth in understanding compared to my contextual perceptions at those times,” says Wielgoz.

This was faculty member Alex Church’s first time seeing the map, and she says it was a strong reminder that we all still have so much to learn about the history of Indigenous peoples.

“Something I didn’t know prior to seeing the map and talking with Carolyn is that the federal government created a different system of day schools and hostels in the north from the residential schools of the south. These hostels were built far away in very remote locations — often isolated on islands — which of course meant it was often impossible for the Inuit children to see their families or communities. Carolyn also shared that these hostels in the north, unlike residential schools elsewhere, often had Inuit women or couples helping to run them,” says Church.

Looking ahead, Anderson hopes colleagues and TRU community members take interest and use the map, and that it continues to spur conversation and understanding about Indigenous peoples, culture and ways of knowing.

TRU recognizes Nathan Matthew with chancellor emeritus

graduates in cap and gown

KAMLOOPS — Dr. Nathan Matthew, outgoing chancellor at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), is being honoured with an emeritus designation at this year’s Spring Convocation.

TRU confers the title of chancellor emeritus on Matthew during convocation ceremonies at the Kamloops campus on Wed., June 5, at 2:30 p.m. The emeritus designation recognizes individuals who have contributed much to the university and the community over the years, and who, after retirement, wish to continue a supportive relationship with TRU, its faculty and its students.Chancellor Nathan Matthew

“My relationship with the Thompson Rivers University began in the Cariboo College days, initially as challenging, but evolving into an alliance based on respect and collaboration,” he said.

Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Nathan Matthew

Matthew is one of Canada’s most-respected advocates for Indigenous education. A member of the Simpcw First Nation and former Kúkwpi7 (chief), he was a senior negotiator for First Nations education in BC, playing a key role in advancing education jurisdiction legislation. In 2006, Matthew received an honorary doctorate from TRU and he joined the university as its inaugural executive director of Aboriginal Education. For the next eight years, he oversaw numerous successful efforts to indigenize the campus and curriculum.

For his advocacy in education, Matthew was recognized nationally with the Indspire Award for Education in 2017. His belief in the power of education to change lives and communities continued to inspire colleagues and students at TRU in his role as chancellor from 2018 to 2024. The first Indigenous person in that role at TRU, Matthew taught the university community about Secwépemc values through his example. TRU values his wisdom and guidance as chancellor emeritus.

Convocation ceremonies take place on June 4, 5 and 6, at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day, at the Tournament Capital Centre. (More details below.)



Michele Young, manager of communications content
TRU Marketing and Communications
250-828-5361 | [email protected]

TRU Spring Convocation 2024 schedule

Tuesday, June 4
10 a.m.
Faculty of Law
Honorary Doctorate to Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose

2:30 p.m.
School of Trades and Technology with Faculty of Education and Social Work
Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Muriel Sasakamoose

Wednesday, June 5
10 a.m.
Faculty of Science
Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Bruce Damer

2:30 p.m.
Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics
Chancellor Emeritus to Dr. Nathan Matthew

Thursday, June 6
10 a.m.
Faculty of Arts
Honorary Doctorate to Dr. Garry Gottfriedson (address by pre-recorded message)

2:30 p.m.
Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism with School of Nursing
Honorary Doctorate to Kevin Loring (address by pre-recorded message)

Meeting leads to agreement on exploring concerns about investments, protests

KAMLOOPS ­— A meeting between Thompson Rivers University (TRU) executives and students has led to an agreement about ways to explore students’ concerns about the university’s investments and its stance on political protests and statements.

Earlier this week, TRU received an email from unnamed individuals with the People’s University of Gaza at TRU. The email demanded TRU disclose and divest investments that might support Israel or companies that do business with Israel. It also suggested that “more assertive forms of peaceful action” could ensue if demands were not met.

TRU invited the group to meet with members of the university’s senior executive team to further discuss their issues and that meeting was held Friday afternoon.

“The meeting was cordial and productive,” said Vice-President of University Relations Brian Daly, who attended along with two other vice-presidents and two academic leaders. “We discussed a wide range of issues and agreed on ways we can provide the information these students seek while respecting the needs and well-being of the TRU community as a whole.”

At the meeting, TRU agreed to process any Freedom of Information requests related to TRU’s investments within 30 days, the time required by B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The university also agreed to review proposals presented by the students related to their desire to see divestment of specific investments.

“With the same consideration we would provide to any TRU student request, we will review proposals made regarding divestment. However, it is important to note that TRU already follows stringent guidelines and policies regarding our investments,” Daly added.

The students were told TRU applies a responsible investment approach that aligns with industry best practices established by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. It’s also important to note that TRU collaborates with UNIE/Share, an organization advising post-secondary institutions on environmental, social and governance issues.

The university confirmed its commitment to the right to peaceful student demonstrations.

“TRU’s priority is the well-being of our students, staff, faculty and community,” said Daly. “We support the right to peaceful student demonstrations in alignment with TRU’s commitment to academic freedom and our policies around the responsible use of university space.”

Lastly, the students asked about TRU’s stance on making political statements. They were told TRU has adopted a practice of neutrality on global political issues. The university does not take positions on global events in recognition of the diverse viewpoints within its community but instead, focuses on creating an environment that respects differing perspectives while providing support to those affected by global events.

President Brett Fairbairn, who was not in Kamloops and could not attend the meeting, said TRU meets regularly with students to discuss topics of importance, such as current events in the Middle East. Meetings will also be held with staff and faculty to discuss their concerns about the ongoing conflict.

“It’s important that we listen to the full range of voices in our community. We know there are many perspectives to be heard and understood, and we will continue to engage with everyone as necessary. Our main goal is to continue to live by our values and our mission, which is to provide an educational space that is respectful and inclusive.”

The meeting between TRU and the students comes at a time when pro-Palestine encampments have emerged at other universities in B.C. and Canada.

“I’m grateful that students at TRU felt comfortable in agreeing to speak with us directly. Peaceful, respectful dialogue must always be the preferred way to reach resolutions on the difficult social issues that confront us today,” Fairbairn said.


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