Kirsten Dobler – 2020 Young Alumna of the Year
The Young Alumna of the Year Award was designed to recognize contributions by an individual in their field of endeavour, whether through community service or professional achievement. The goal was to recognize a recent graduate who continues to embody the spirit of Bishop’s in their corner of the world and celebrate them with their fellow alumni and current students.
This year’s Bishop’s University Young Alumna of the Year is Kirsten Dobler who earned her BA in Education from Bishop’s in 2016 and her Bachelor of Education in 2017. Upon graduation she moved to Kitkatla, in northern British Columbia, to teach at Lax Klan Independent school in the Gitxaała Nation. The Gitxaała people have lived in their village for over ten thousand years and Kirsten was quickly welcomed into the community to model the education skills that she learned while at Bishop’s through her practicums and her work with Transformative Praxis: Malawi. This experience led Kirsten to understanding the importance of teachers learning the Indigenous language of where they are teaching and using it in their everyday classroom routines. She decided to move to Liǧ ʷiłdax̌ ʷ territory (Campbell River, BC) to learn her language, Lik̓ ʷala, teach in a Kʷak̓ ʷala/Lik̓ ʷala Kindergarten bilingual program, and become an active member of her community.
Kirsten is currently pursuing her Master of Education, with a focus on Indigenous Language Revitalization, at the University of Victoria. Additionally, she is the head of the Kʷak̓ ʷala/Lik̓ ʷala bilingual program at Ripple Rock Elementary School in Campbell River where she, along with other language teachers, teach kindergarten children in their languages, Kʷak̓ ʷala and Lik̓ ʷala. Kirsten is also taking classes and participating in the Mentor Apprentice program to fully learn the language herself. In the coming year the program will be expanding to Kindergarten and Grade 1 in Kʷak̓ ʷala/Lik̓ ʷala.
Despite her busy schedule, Kirsten is extremely involved in protecting Indigenous rights, combating racism, and educating those in her social circles about what it means to be Indigenous. Amanda Moore ’16, who nominated Kirsten for the Young Alumna of the Year award commented, “Kirsten’s dedicated to making the world a more inclusive place and to protecting her heritage and the heritage of others. She has opened my eyes to the injustices in the world and I have been incredibly inspired.”
Bishop’s University teaches that it is important to stand up for what one believes and to make positive change in the world. Kirsten Dobler’s entire life is dedicated to preserving her culture, which is actively being erased by the colonial structure of Canada. By teaching younger generations about their heritage and creating a safe space for them to be proud of being Indigenous, she is strengthening her culture and keeping it alive. Moore concludes, “This is something Kirsten firmly believes in and will always protect.”