BCIT is saddened to hear of the passing of Elder Mary Bernadette Roberts, a passionate advocate for community inclusion and education for learners of all ages.
Elder Mary was born to George and Ethel Roberts (nee Pierre). She was raised in Musqueam community with a strong cultural and traditional upbringing taught mostly from her grandmother Elizabeth Roberts. As a First Nations School Support Worker with Vancouver School Board for over 30 years, Elder Mary took great joy in helping children and their families’ access achieve success through education.
In 2016, Elder Mary joined BCIT as an Elder on Campus, providing guidance to students, faculty, and staff on their educational journeys. Alongside the BCIT Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships group, she was gracious in her time and spirit – sharing Musqueam traditional values and promoting inclusiveness in the community.
“I extend my deepest sympathies to Elder Mary’s family and friends and to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni who were impacted by her powerful teachings,” says BCIT Interim President Paul McCullough. “Elder Mary was a dedicated advocate and we owe much to the legacy she contributed on the BCIT journey towards Truth, Reconciliation, and Indigeneity.”
Elder Mary was integral to the dialogue and conversation that led to the creation of the BCIT Indigenous Vision, a framework for action and accountability in support of the Indigenous learners and Truth and Reconciliation within the BCIT community. She routinely led community members in basket-weaving workshops, incorporating storytelling and traditional teachings that promoted cultural understanding both for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.
“Elder Mary supported and guided students from across BC to improve their lives through education. In her role at the Vancouver School Board Elder Mary championed thousands of students. Her influence and legacy is truly life changing,” says BCIT Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships Kory Wilson. “She was a friend and mentor to many, and her absence will be deeply felt in our community.”
BCIT Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships will honour Elder Mary’s legacy later this fall.