Staff Q & A

Please take a few minutes to learn how some FNHL staff support Indigenous students, what inspires them and their ideas for building connections.


Ryanne James
Manager, Student Engagement and Community Programs

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Q: How do you work with Indigenous students in your role? Which programs, events or initiatives do you work on with students?

A: I manage the Musqueam-UBC Bridge Through Sport Program. And in partnership with the Center for Student Involvement and Careers, I manage the Indigenous Students’ Collegium. Please take a moment to visit our Facebook and Instagram pages. I support Indigenous students and Musqueam youth in building thoughtful, safe and kind communities of connection with their peers.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your role at UBC? What inspires you?

A: UBC Vancouver is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people and I have a truly unique role at the university working to support Indigenous students and Musqueam youth in building community connection at and with UBC to support their well-being and educational success. This work is important to ensure equity, inclusion and diversity within the university and although it is often challenging the thing that I love the most is all is the laughter. We laugh a lot! I am inspired by getting to be a part of students learning journeys and I really enjoy all the amazing meals, ceremonies and events that we share together.

Q: What are you doing to support your wellness during the COVID19 pandemic?

A: I made a wellness plan that hangs in my kitchen to remind me to take time to exercise, connect with friends and family, walk my dog, drink water, take a shower, brush my teeth and to do a daily gratitude exercise. There were some dark times in the early days of the pandemic and I needed a plan to navigate my mental health. I take time to walk by the sea because it rejuvenates me and I work to remain flexible so that I can pivot and shift as we have needed to throughout the pandemic.


Mischa Makortoff
Executive Coordinator

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Q: How do you work with Indigenous students in your role? Which programs, events or initiatives do you work on with students?

A: I schedule meetings for Dr. Margaret Moss. Prior to the pandemic, I organized some events. When Indigenous students want to meet with Dr. Moss, I assist them with scheduling a meeting.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your role at UBC? What inspires you?

A: My favourite thing about working at UBC is the people! I am inspired by the energy of the students on campus and their motivation to learn and make positive change in the world.

Q: What are you doing to support your wellness during the COVID19 pandemic?

A: Cycling and going for power walks.


Kevin Ward (ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐤ/nêhiyaw)
Research and Communications Officer

Q: How do you work with Indigenous students in your role? Which programs, events or initiatives do you work on with students?

A: I produce The Talking Stick, our unit’s student newsletter which is published weekly during the winter session. I also manage a few of our social media channels, including the Indigenous Portal itself, which has a student section filled with great information for them.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your role at UBC? What inspires you?

A: I enjoy gathering and sharing information with Indigenous students that have a positive impact in their lives. For instance, a former student once told me that she participated in an internship program that she heard about in The Talking Stick. That was satisfying to learn. Like others, I’m inspired to see young Indigenous students grow and mature during their time here. And I find watching some of them participate in our graduation celebration immensely satisfying, which always restores my passion for the work I do.

Q: What opportunities exist to build a strong connection with the Indigenous community at UBC? How can Indigenous and other students, staff and faculty support this work?

A: One road to good relations is learning how someone different from you sees and experiences the world. It’s at this moment that understanding, empathy and alliances can be formed. Whether studying or working at UBC, the university is a great place for relationship building of all kinds. One way to build and support connections at the university is through participation, be it attending events, discussions, blogging, or what have you. That and reaching out whenever you can and, in turn, willing to be reached yourself.

Q: What are you doing to support your wellness during the COVID19 pandemic?

A: As a father of two young children, my wellness revolves around theirs. So I stay busy and engaged with my community by supporting their various physical and extra-curricular activities, such as they are these days, along with other parents. For myself, apart from ensuring my streaming services are all paid up :), I stay committed to safe choices and healthy habits for the benefit of myself and others. Plus, I’m fully vaccinated!


Christine Wasiak
Longhouse Building Manager

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Q: How do you work with Indigenous students in your role? Which programs, events or initiatives do you work on with students?

A: I am the Building Manager at the First Nations Longhouse. I hire Indigenous Students into Work Learn positions that create a comfortable study and social place for Indigenous Students to feel like they are at a home away from home.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your role at UBC? What inspires you?

A: Indigenous Students and Indigenous Students! They continually inspire me with their generosity, resilience and successes and how they create community.

Q: What opportunities exist to build a strong connection with the Indigenous community at UBC? How can Indigenous and other students, staff and faculty support this work?

A: Using opportunities to build connections in spaces for Indigenous Students is important. Giving space for activities that matter to Indigenous Students is the key. Taking the time to find out how to gather, eat together, sing together and reflect together safely starts with making space for the Indigenous community at UBC. We need to stop rushing things just to get them done. A meaningful life evolves at its own pace.

Q: What are you doing to support your wellness during the COVID19 pandemic?

A: Learning lots of new things about myself. Learning how to do new things. Learning to do things differently (like training a wildly excitable and equally lazy Black Shepherd Rescue dog). Finding gratitude for a sunny day and/or a sunny disposition. Getting outside!


Updated: November 4, 2022