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Catherine Wishart replaces ousted Aaron Ekman as chair of UNBC Board of Governors

Catherine Wishart is the new chair of the UNBC Board of Governors.

Catherine Wishart, a well-known northern champion for post-secondary education, is the new chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Board of Governors. Wishart has been a provincially appointed representative on the board since July 31, 2020, and was recently re-appointed for another two-year term running July 31, 2021 to July 31, 2023.

She replaces Aaron Ekman who was removed from the position last month by Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training, who inferred he made racist comments.

“We have high standards for public appointees and racist and discriminatory comments from public appointments to post-secondary institutions will not be tolerated. I am removing Aaron Ekman from his position,” she said in a tweet May 28 that was followed up by an official statement.

Wishart works now as a consultant with public sector, First Nations and non-profit organizations on planning and development. Prior to this, she was the vice-president Community and Student Services, the Director of Community, Industry and Business Initiatives, and a Regional Manager – Nechako with the College of New Caledonia.

“Post-secondary access and opportunities are more important than ever in the North, and the creativity and connections that UNBC builds through teaching and research are essential to our success,” said Wishart. “This University attracts exceptional students, supported by world-class faculty and staff. The board is immensely grateful to all our stakeholders as we continue working to support our students and communities and offer an exceptional post-secondary experience.”

Wishart is active in her community, serving as a director of the Elizabeth Fry Housing Society in Prince George. She has also served on the Board of Examiners of the British Columbia Association of Forest Professionals, was the Founding Chair and Member of the 16/97 Economic Alliance Society, and Vice-Chair of Community Futures Fraser Fort George. She holds a Master of Education, Policy and Administration, from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University.

“UNBC is making a real difference in the lives of those who live in the communities we are proud to serve and we are creating local solutions that have a global impact through our teaching and research,” said UNBC Interim President Dr. Geoffrey Payne. “All this is due to the commitment and effort brought forth by our students, alumni, faculty, staff, supporters, and of course our governing bodies, the Senate and Board. Cathe has demonstrated leadership during her time with UNBC, and I’m excited to work closely with her and the Board as we strive towards our vision of being Canada’s leading destination university.”

In addition to the board chair election, Andrew Robinson remains as the vice-chair of the board. Robinson, a UNBC graduate (Master of Arts – First Nations Studies, 2009), is the Chief Administrative Officer at Laxgalts’ap Village Government. He has been a Deputy Representative Aboriginal for the BC Representative of Children and Youth, an Indigenous Consultation Reviewer with BC Assets and Lands, and served in various positions with the McLeod Lake Indian Band and Nisga’a Lisims Government. Robinson is an active member of his community serving as a fire fighter, with the road rescue unit, and as a Greenville Athletic Club Director. He was previously the president of the Nisga’a Pacific Limited, member of the Nisga’a Business Review Body and served as a member of UNBC’s Senate.

The 15-member UNBC Board of Governors has oversight and responsibility for the management, administration and finances of the University. The University Act of British Columbia sets-out the membership of the Board, which is composed of the Chancellor, UNBC President, eight members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, and five elected by the University community (two students, two faculty members, and one staff member).

The Board of Governors meets at least four times per year to conduct its general business; the next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17.


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