Student Stories: Meet Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson, B.Ed.

Recent NITEP graduation, now pursuing M.Sc through UBC Land and Food Systems Integrated Studies program
Nation: Timiskaming First Nation, Northwestern Quebec
Current residence: Vancouver, BC

One of NITEP’s foundational learning principles is intergenerational learning – learning which uses a “hands back, hands forward” approach, emphasizing the building of relationships with those of both the older and younger generations. Within the program, 4th year NITEP student Dave Robinson has demonstrated the positive results and impacts which intergenerational learning provides.

Dave Robinson is Anishinaabe Algonquin, from Timiskaming First Nation in Northwestern Quebec. Before coming to NITEP, Dave was heavily involved in various sports. He played Junior B hockey in Sarnia, Ontario before continuing his boxing career, which he began at the of 9. As an amateur boxer, Dave become the North American Native Boxing Champion, three-time BC Provincial Boxing Champion, Ontario Provincials bronze medalist, Canadian Nationals bronze medalist, and attended the boxing world championships in Tampere, Finland. He briefly turned professional and finished his professional boxing career with a 2-0 record, winning the Canada vs. USA Novice Bronze Championship. It was through boxing and coaching at the North Burnaby Boxing Club with his mentor and VSB teacher Manny Sobral, former IBO World Champion and 1988 Olympian, that Dave was inspired to become an educator.

Dave studied Human Kinetics at Langara College. He decided to take a Native Studies course which focused on Urban Aboriginal Policy in Canada, which he says “changed [his] thinking and inspired [him] to be involved in working with youth and in Indigenous education”. Dave chose NITEP to pursue his career as an educator because it was important to him to be in a program which focused on Indigenous education.

In his first year in NITEP, Dave had his placement with the Take-A-Hike program at John Oliver Secondary School. After speaking with staff at the school, Dave was asked to do a carving project with students, which resulted in the sculpture Many Beings that now stands in the school’s learning centre. Through this project, Dave met Musqueam Knowledge Keeper and the VSB’s first Knowledge Keeper, Shane Point. To this day, Shane remains a mentor and teacher to Dave for his carving and personal growth. Currently, Uncle Shane is mentoring Dave in his carving of a 24’ Red Cedar sculpture of a Thunderbird and Thunder Snake at the UBC Indigenous Garden, where Dave is the Resident Artist. This sculpture was started in May 2017 and was completed in August 2018 following Dave’s completion of the UBC NITEP B.Ed. program.

In speaking with Shane Point, Dave learnt that learning is about doing, and more so, that learning is about being in the presence of others and sharing in relationships with the land and with a community. Uncle Shane emphasizes the importance of knowing when to listen and when to share. He prioritizes listening to those of the older generation to learn and to grow, taking that knowledge and exploring for ourselves, and bringing that knowledge to the younger generations. For Dave, Uncle Shane has been instrumental in his own learning and continued growth. For both Uncle Shane and Dave, relationships to land, to each other, and to community are what drive learning.

Through his studies, Dave has continued his carving, often sharing his knowledge with youth through his projects., such as the yellow cedar Medicine Wheel Puzzle which he finished with the UBC Cedar Aboriginal Youth Math and Science Program. He has a number of pieces, including Thunder Child, which resides in the Indigenous garden at the UBC Farm, and received a traditional pole raising ceremony from Shane Point; Dancing Flames, a piece made to honour Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald at her retirement, which stands in the Department of Educational Studies building at UBC; and Sir Sanford Seal, which was made with students at Sir Sanford Elementary School during Dave’s long practicum in 2018.

Dave also continues to coach and mentor youth with the North Burnaby Boxing Club. One such person to receive mentorship from Dave is Petr Javier, a 3rd year NITEP student from Yalis (Alert Bay), BC. Petr first met Dave in 2013 through the Burnaby Boxing Club and notes that it was Dave who first pointed out the NITEP program to him and encouraged him to apply. For Petr, he describes how Dave has taught him so much about being both a person and a learner, including the importance of listening and self-reflection. Whether it has been through Dave’s talks and discussions, inviting him for barbeques at Dave’s house, or lessons from boxing, Petr notes that Dave helped prepare him as a learner. Most of all, Petr says Dave has taught him how to be resilient and transfer the skill of boxing to teaching and learning. Petr is now making a mark for himself as a young educator, becoming involved in coaching, sharing his knowledge with the younger generations, and using his studies to explore how to promote education of his Wakesheng language.

Dave continues to work to grow his own learning. After completing NITEP this summer, Dave began his M.Sc in September 2018 with the UBC Land and Food Systems Integrated Studies Master’s program, focusing his research in land-based pedagogies. Dave explains that “[He is] choosing to continue [his] education at UBC to follow in [his] Mother Dr. Jocelyne Robinson’s footsteps”. Moving forward as an Indigenous educator, his goal is “to bring the medicine of [his] carvings to the youth and allow the youth to be part of these creations which are medicine. And to have the medicine in public spaces for people from all cultures to engage, and heal with them.”