Royal Roads University graduate, “Zaa” Derik Joseph is determined to better the likelihood of success for First Nations students in Canada. Now, as an educator, he wants to use his voice to spearhead this change.
Joseph grew up with his mom in Vancouver, but spent much of his childhood with his dad in a reserve community in Northern B.C. This experience was what inspired his undergrad thesis at Royal Roads: “My father, a member of the Tl’azt’en First Nation, never knew what he could have turned out to be with an education, as that opportunity was taken away from him by being placed in the Lejac Residential School,” Joseph wrote in his Royal Roads thesis. His thesis explores indigenous student perspectives on post-secondary experiences by listening to these students’ personal narratives. His own narrative was also crucial for this project.
“I experienced the isolation of such remote, reserve life, including separation from Internet-based communication technologies… My career and life goals shifted drastically from this experience and I was motivated to find opportunities for improving access to all levels of education and for the development of sustainable futures with organizations and industries.” Joseph went on to receive his MA in Professional Communication (MAPC) from Royal Roads University.
Aside from amazing professors, practices, and resources, Joseph made lasting connections with other students; some of which have been both beneficial and crucial to furthering his research. The Indigenous Education and Student Services Manager, Asmanahi Antoine, met Joseph as a colleague at Royal Roads. Now, the two are not only great friends, but are working together to further Indigenous education in the community and around the world.