Cindy Blackstock joins the U of A Faculty of Extension

(Edmonton) A renowned advocate for First Nations children’s rights and a leading First Nations organization have partnered with the University of Alberta to uplift the rights and potential of Aboriginal children and families, strengthening the university’s commitment to engage with Aboriginal communities.

A dynamic partnership between the Faculty of Extension and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada begins this monthas the executive director of the society, Cindy Blackstock, joins the Faculty of Extension.

The U of A’s collaboration with Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada—a groundbreaking First Nations human-rights organization leading the way in Aboriginal children’s rights—will result in meaningful research, discovery and action for children said Katy Campbell, dean of the Faculty of Extension.

“I am especially excited about the two-way community-based learning and engagement opportunities for the university community and the communities involved with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada,” Campbell said. “University-community engagement anchors our faculty’s mission and mandate through Dare to Discover.”

Blackstock, who holds a BA in psychology, a master’s degree in management and a PhD in social work, will be teaching graduate students at the U of A, sharing her advocacy for the rights of indigenous children in Canada and around the globe. A member of the Gitksan Nation in British Columbia, Blackstock has worked in the field of child and family services for more than 20 years and founded two successful First Nations non-profit organizations.

The author of more than 50 publications, her key interests include exploring and addressing the causes of disadvantage for Aboriginal children, by promoting equitable and culturally based interventions.

“I believe we can have a Canada where First Nations children can grow up proud of who they are, with the same opportunity as other Canadian children,” Blackstock said. “Through this partnership with the U of A, I’m hoping to foster meaningful partnerships between First Nations and the University of Alberta that promote the human and cultural rights of First Nations children and families.”

Through Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, students will explore the issues facing Aboriginal children and families and learn about the workings of effective systemic advocacy and policy. The university will also support and make available to students the society’s First Peoples Child & Family Review, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary research, practice and policy focused on Aboriginal perspectives, while respecting indigenous cultural property rights.

The partnership between Blackstock, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the University of Alberta strengthens the faculty’s ongoing commitment to working with Aboriginal and other external communities to promote learning and beneficial research, working hand-in-hand with those communities, Campbell said.

“These communities bring important world views and knowledge that must be respected and encouraged in academia, and universities also have a responsibility to work with Aboriginal communities in ways that uplift their aspirations.”

Partnering with Blackstock and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada “is a significant addition to Aboriginal initiatives that already exist within our faculty and at the university,” Campbell noted.

Blackstock, in partnership with indigenous peoples around the globe, has supported the development of United Nations instruments on indigenous child rights. This provides an opportunity for U of A scholars and students across campus to explore the connections between the human and indigenous rights of Aboriginal peoples in Canada to the experience of those in other parts of the world, Campbell added.

“We are excited about Cindy’s passion and her ability to bring people along in a transformative way that creates positive change for children and their families.”