Jade LaFontaine's community is the Spuzzum First Nation, where her dad is the Elected Chief. She is of mixed ancestry, with both european and nłeʔkepmx roots. The language she speaks is nłeʔkepmxcin which part of the Salish language family.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I am very passionate about restoring the vitality of our traditional languages and cultures, and I have been doing highly specialized work and research so for me doing a PhD was a natural progression. My Masters was limiting in the scope of research I could conduct so the PhD will be a good fit.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I chose UBC because I did my undergrad here, and I really enjoyed the Indigenous community at UBC. Most universities in Canada don’t have the presence and physical spaces dedicated to Indigenous gathering and representation that I found at UBC. UBC is also close to my traditional territory so it’s easier for me to get on the land and work which is a crucial part of my learning journey and eventually teaching.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Since UBC didn’t have an applied Linguistics program, or a graduate level program for First Nations and Endangered Languages that I was initially looking for, I decided to go into Language and Literacy Education! I did Second Language Education at McGill for my Masters, so I felt it was a logical next step! I also really wanted to work with Candace Galla as I feel her work is very in line with my interest and specialty
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
No surprises, but I’m happy to be home.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I’m looking forward to taking seminar courses again and getting to hear my peers talk about their expertise and research.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Having to constantly challenge academia and institutions to ensure space for Indigenous ways of being and knowing, and ensure respectful collaboration with Indigenous groups and communities.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
Practice makes perfect, it’s not so much the program as it is the capacity to have a voice at a higher level where I can make a difference.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
My schooling, and also my experience learning about my language and culture.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Play video games, hiking, art.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Find a community, create networks and share ideas with others in your field so that you can gain better sense of understanding as well as building meaningful relationships with those around you who will surely make your time at UBC more fulfilling.