Education professor receives national honour

By Dale Johnson Posted: October 6, 2015 6:00 a.m.

  Dr. Sean Lessard is an award-winning assistant professor, and advocate for Indigenous youth and education.
Dr. Sean Lessard is an award-winning assistant professor, and advocate for Indigenous youth and education. Photo courtesy of Dr. Sean Lessard

A professor at the University of Regina has won a prestigious national award from the Canadian Education Assocation.

Dr. Sean Lessard is the recipient of the 2015 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education from the Canadian Education Association.

Lessard, an assistant professor of Indigenous education and core studies in the Faculty of Education, is being recognized for what the Assocation says is “his work in redefining the ways in which Indigenous learners and their teachers can engage in traditional and non-traditional educational spaces.”

“I believe I won this because of my work with youth, not only as a researcher but as an advocate for Indigenous youth and education. The work that I have engaged in alongside others has both practical and philosophical implications as we consider the experiences of Indigenous youth and their families both in and outside of school,” says Lessard.

Lessard’s home community is the Montreal Lake Cree Nation of Northern Saskatchewan. He was adopted as a child by a non-Aboriginal rural family in North Battleford. During his youth, he had frequent trips between both worlds.

“The work with Indigenous youth is important to me personally as an Indigenous researcher. I need to continue to advocate for youth and families as they negotiate schools and the larger society. I believe I have a responsibility as I was privileged to be able to study at a university, and much of my family has not experienced this.”

As co-founder of the Growing Young Movers Youth Program, Lessard spends time alongside youth in an after school movement and wellness program in North-Central Regina.

“It has become a meeting place for the community and youth, but also a home-place for many students at the University of Regina who continue to want to learn about youth, and in this context, urban Indigenous youth,” he explains.

“Dr. Lessard has worked hard to build a program of research that is attentive to the lives and experiences of Aboriginal youth, their families and communities,” says Dean of the Faculty of Eduation, Dr. Jennifer Tupper. “His research has the potential to improve the educational experiences of Aboriginal learners, urgently needed in light of colonial and racist educational polices and practices that have shaped these experiences for over a century.”

“His recognition means a great deal to the Faculty and the University. It affirms the value of anti-oppressive education and research, supports Indigenization efforts, and ultimately, advances reconciliation efforts that anchor so much of our current work in teacher education at the University of Regina,” adds Tupper.