Faculty of Education
By Melissa Lafrance on September 13, 2017
Thriving Campus features testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff members. This month we feature Jessica La Rochelle, Assistant Director of NITEP, UBC’s Indigenous Teacher Education Program, and the Manager of Indigenous Education (Faculty of Ed).
How do you thrive at work?
I am so grateful to work in an environment that fuels my passion for Indigenous education and feeds my spirit. My roles allow me to travel to Indigenous communities to engage with potential students and educational leaders to recruit them to our programs, work with an amazing team of educators and strong advocates, engage with leaders in Indigenous education to promote and facilitate reconciliation and resurgence, and connect with colleagues within the Faculty of Education and across campus to support and empower Indigenous students. As a Wellness Liaison, the lead for the NITEP Mental Health and Wellness program and member (former chair) of the Aboriginal Mental Health and Wellness Working Group, I am passionate about creating and maintaining safe spaces for students to have meaningful discussions about mental health and also what it means to be an Indigenous student at a mainstream university.
I thrive on creating and maintaining respectful connections and relationships with students, colleagues and community partners.
Tsel xwelchesem late lhwelep. Respecting the protocol of the lands on which I live and work, I raise my hands in thanks and respect to all those who have come before me and alongside me to clear a trail through an increasingly visible Indigenous landscape.
How do you thrive at home?
Working full-time while pursuing a graduate degree has been challenging over the past two years. I have struggled to maintain balance, but thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive and understanding husband who pushes me to keep calm and decolonize on. I thrive on spending time with family and friends, whether it’s quiet time together, family potlucks, movie nights with my husband or other super fun activities! I am so blessed to have a huge and supportive family: our homes are full of fun and laughter. I love to read, especially getting lost in stories and finding new parts of myself. Knitting! I love to knit; my husband might say I am obsessed and I would not argue with that.
I strive to be a good role model for my family and for my community. Coming from a small community of about 1,000 people, it was a huge adjustment for me when I moved to Vancouver to pursue post-secondary education. Now I’m thriving in the big city.
Éy swàyèl, Lhkwemiya tel skwix. Telitsel kwe Sts’ailes. Tsel Stó:lō qas te Okanagan qas te Trinidadian. Tel sísele Siyamtelot qaste Swelímeltexw. Ey tel squalawel kwels kwetslole. Jessica is Stó:lō from the Sts’ailes First Nation and lives and works on the Skwxwú7mesh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm territories respectively. She is also Okanagan on her mother’s side and Trinidadian on her father’s. She is the Assistant Director of NITEP, UBC’s Indigenous Teacher Education Program, and the Manager of Indigenous Education in the Faculty of Education. Jessica has a BA in Sociology from UBC and is currently in the final year of her MEd in Educational Leadership and Administration with a focus on Leadership in Indigenous Education at UBC.
Photo: Courtesy of Jessica La Rochelle