Faculty Stories: Meet Dr. Dustin Louie

What Nation are you from?

The nation that I’m from is the Nee Tahi Buhn, so I am a member of the Dakelh people of Northern British Columbia.  I also have a really strong connections to Nadleh Whut’en as well, and I’ve got family sort of all in that area.



How long have you been a director at NITEP?

I’m just new! I’ve only been here for six months now- started in January of this year and really thrilled about the first six months and how it’s gone.



You have been on campus for six months. What is your favorite place on campus?

Oh man, I spend so much of my time in the Ponderosa Buildings, I haven’t ventured that far out to some of those buildings to be honest. But one of my favourite [things] is to be able to walk and see the ocean when you’re taking a break during the day. So, being able to walk over to the gardens, [and] being able to recognize that we’re on the land and on the territory. I think that mixture of nature within the campus is my favourite thing about being on campus.



What is your favorite thing to buy in the cafeteria?

There’s a vegetarian place where I get this salad that has kale and it’s not that exciting to buy. But that’s the thing that I can buy the most common[ly] on campus, I think. Or like, sometimes I’ll have a smoothie from Body Energy Club. I guess those are the two things that I buy the most commonly on campus.



On vacation, are you going on a beach trip or mountain trip?

This trip I’m taking is gonna primarily to be a beach trip, actually. In the past, I’d say I’m more likely to be someone who takes a trip to the mountains, but this year, since we’ve been unable to travel for a little while, I’m pretty excited to take the beach trip and spend some time in the water and on the beach.



What would you like NITEP students to know about you?

I think one of the things that would be helpful to know about me is [that] my path in education mirrors a lot of the paths that the students in our program take. […] Going from high school into my undergrad- just like all the learning that I had to do in terms of how to navigate this city, how to navigate a university program. Those experiences that I had early on my degree are really close to witnessing a lot of the experiences of NITEP students as well. So that shared experience for many of us who come from smaller communities, many of us who are Indigenous [that] come to the university, I think that shared experience is a really important part of the connection that we have.



Can you tell us one moment you felt inspired by a student?

I’ve been working alongside a couple of students in an additional class this summer. I was able to have one-on-one conversations with them and I think in those one-on-one conversations, I was able to learn more about what motivated them to get into NITEP and get into being a teacher, I think the wealth of knowledge and the wealth of experiences that those students have shared with me over the last couple of weeks has been so inspirational and so exciting. And, you know, one of the things that I think about is how excited I am for them to be teachers. I think of the teachers that I didn’t have access to when I was going to schools, [having] no Indigenous teachers in my school, despite there being a large Indigenous population where I lived. And the excitement that I have is thinking of these students being in schools and being those mentors for all those Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.



You are a Professor in Educational Studies. What research areas are you interested in?

The research area that I’m interested in is primarily practical approaches to decolonizing education. So a lot of my research looks at working together with K-12 schools and districts [to] think about the ways in which we can meaningfully decolonize our practice and trying to find the spaces between creating theory and then actually applying that within schools and within school districts. I think there’s such a huge excitement and appetite for reconciliation and decolonizing. And I think the role that many academics can play is, “How can we support school leaders, teachers, and administrators in actually beginning to do that sort of work?”. So that’s primarily where my research program is right now, and I’m so excited about it. I think it ties in to a previous statement that I made about our graduates- they’re coming in to a system that is really, really eager for them to share their knowledge, and a lot of the research is “How can I help support that process?”



What do you value about Indigenous Education?

I think the embedding of Indigenous knowledges into our practice, to me, is so important. Growing up connected to my community and seeing those Indigenous knowledges that are so central to the lives of our people, [and] finding places within the educational system for those things to be included there as well. So you know, for me, the idea of taking on the role of being a witness in my own community is something I think a lot about. [As well as] the different teachings that we had learned about, like transparency, generosity- all these different things that we see in our community. Indigenous Education gives an opportunity for some of those values and those teachings to be included within the learning that we have. I think for so long, so many Indigenous people didn’t have access to engaging with those teachings when they were in school systems. I think there is huge excitement, in both getting access to those, but then how it also begins to shape our identity as Indigenous people. So if we do have access when we’re going to school, how does that change our relationship to our own Indigeneity? How does that help support the ways in which we view ourselves as being authentically Indigenous? Because of colonization, because of all these different things, there’s been a disruption for so many of us in our own identity. And I think Indigenous identity, which included those Indigenous knowledges, gives us that really exciting access to being able to form identity again, and the school being a place where that can be supported as well.



What is a tip you’d give to our Indigenous students to succeed?

I was talking to students who are just finishing some of their courses and going into their professional year about the key to being successful. There were a couple of things. First, for me, it was really recognizing that I belonged in post-secondary because for so long, I just thought that like, I didn’t see myself as being a successful student. I didn’t have a lot of modeling that within my family and my community, of going to post-secondary and being successful. So, it was hard for me to envision myself like as someone who would get a degree or as someone who would be successful. So, I think that like recognizing and believing that we truly belong in these spaces, and can be successful in these spaces, that’s a really big part of it. I think like pursuing something in education that you’re really passionate about is so important, finding those aspects to that work that like you’re really drawn to, and really bring you excitement. You know I think about the amount of work it takes to finish these degrees, to go into the professional year, like the huge amount of commitment that takes. I think when we’re excited about that work , it’s possible to engage and throw ourselves into it and do all that really exciting work. So, I think those two things: recognizing that we’re going to be successful in these spaces and we have a place within these postsecondary institutions. But then also like letting our passions and our excitement lead us in this work. And you know, I think once we do that, it makes all this hard work far more attainable because we’re following those passions and we’re following that excitement that brought us there in the first place. So, I think it can be easy to lose sight of those when you’re in classes because of, like, assignments and readings and all these different things that we sort of are constantly addressing. But remembering that like foundational excitement that brought us there in the first place and connecting to that as much as we can in our work.