DeDe DeRose joins the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation Board of Directors.

2 Apr 2019 6:00 AM | Anonymous

Vancouver BC, April 2, 2019: Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of DeDe DeRose, BEd ’81, MEd ’93, to the Foundation Board of Directors. DeRose was British Columbia’s first Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement, and is a prominent advocate for Aboriginal student success. Born in Williams Lake to a Secwepempc family and as a member of the Esketemc First Nation, DeRose graduated from UBC’s Indigenous Teacher’s Education Program (NITEP) with a Bachelor of Education in 1981. She also earned a Diploma in Education in 1990, and completed the UBC Ts”kel Master’s Program in 1993. DeRose taught in the Cariboo Chilcotin School District for nine years, and then served as principal for various elementary schools in the Kamloops/Thompson School District for nearly two decades. During her career as an educator, DeRose advocated for the inclusion of Aboriginal languages, history, and culture in the school curriculum. A community organizer, she sought the genuine involvement of parents, caregivers, and local communities in her schools. She served as the first Aboriginal educator at the former BC College of Teachers for over eight years, and has chaired and co-chaired the First Nations Education Council at UBC for 13 years. In 2005, DeRose was awarded the inaugural Teacher Educator Award from the Association of BC Deans of Education for her work in supporting and promoting teacher education at the school level. In 2012, DeRose was appointed to the BC Ministry of Education as the first ever Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement. The position was created to improve the rates of high-school graduation for Aboriginal youth, which is on average 30% lower than non-Aboriginal students.

About the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation 

The Foundation was founded in 2008 by Ron Woznow and Susan O’Brien and was originally named the Family Food Research Foundation. It is a registered Canadian charity. Its goal was to increase the number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students graduating from post-secondary science programs.

In 2008, Dr. Woznow was the CEO of the Advanced Food and Material Network (AFMNet). In 2008, 2009 and 2010 the Foundation received seed funding from AFMNet. The first program was started in 2009 and was called the “Be a Food Researcher for a Week” which provided an opportunity for students to spend a week on campus learning about food research and the support that was available to them if they did post-secondary studies. This program was modeled after the “Be a Genetic Researcher for a Week” program which Dr. Woznow started in 2001 while he was the CEO of the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network. 

In 2010, Dr. Emoke Szathmary, the past president of the University of Manitoba, introduced Ron to Dr. Verna Kirkness who was widely regarded as the leading Indigenous educator in Canada. She was supportive of the Foundation’s goal and agreed to lend her name to the Foundation which was renamed the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation. In 2013, the Foundation expanded the scientific scope of its program to include research in both science and engineering and renamed the program the “Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program”. 

From 2012-2014, the Program was offered at the University of Manitoba. In 2015, a Program was added at the University of Saskatchewan and in 2016 at The University of British Columbia. In 2018, the Program expanded to the University of Calgary, First Nations University of Canada and the University of Ottawa. In 2019, Programs were added at the University of Victoria and University of Alberta bringing the number of Programs to 8. 130 students from across Canada attended the 2019 Programs and were mentored by 53 professors and their research associates.

For more information about the Foundation please visit or contact Amber Boyd, Executive Director,

For information about supporting the Foundation please contact Tony C.L. Williams, Chair of the Board of Directors

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