NIGEL LIVINGSTONE AND MARIANNE BOELSCHER IGNACE
2005 DISTINGUISHED ACADEMICS AWARDS RECIPIENTS
A University of Victoria biologist who brings together researchers and students to help people with disabilities, and a Simon Fraser University anthropologist and linguist who preserves and teaches aboriginal languages were honoured on April 13th by receiving the 2005 CUFA/BC Distinguished Academics Awards.
UVic biologist Nigel Livingston was named Academic of the Year for his work in creating and sustaining the University of Victoria Assistive Technology Team (UVATT), which designs and builds devices to assist children and adults with disabilities to better interact with the world around them.
SFU anthropologist and linguist Marianne Boelscher Ignace received the Career Achievement Award for her tireless work in documenting aboriginal languages and culture, and passing this knowledge on to new generations.
These awards are presented annually to recognise faculty members at B.C. public universities who use their research to make contributions beyond the academy.
“Professors Livingston and Ignace are stellar examples of B.C. university faculty who use their considerable knowledge and skills to conduct research and carry out activities that directly contribute to the community beyond the academy,” said Norma Wieland, CUFA/BC President.
“Prof. Livingston’s team has developed a wide range of devices that include ‘smart’ tricycles for blind children, and a device to open laptop computers for individuals with mobility impairments,” Wieland continued. “Prof. Ignace is helping to bring aboriginal languages back from the edge of extinction — a literally priceless contribution to First Nations.”
Priya Ramu, host of CBC Radio One’s On the Coast, emceed the awards dinner on April 13th at the Law Courts Inn Restaurant in Vancouver.
The CUFA/BC Distinguished Academics Awards are in their eleventh year and receive generous support from Sun Microsystems of Canada, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, the University of Northern British Columbia, and Royal Roads University.
2005 CUFA/BC DISTINGUISHED ACADEMICS AWARDSRECIPIENTS
APRIL 13, 2005
ACADEMIC OF THE YEAR AWARD – DR. NIGEL LIVINGSTON
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA
A plant physiologist, Nigel Livingston turned his mind to how technology could be used to assist people with disabilities when his daughter was receiving therapy at Victoria’s Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health in 1998. Prof. Livingston was asked to design a device that would allow a severely disabled child to use a slight finger movement to control a cassette player. Realizing the huge need for custom devices to assist people with disabilities to better interact with the world, he looked to the university community to find a solution.
In 1999, Prof. Livingston asked the campus news paper to run an article calling for volunteers and from this the University of Victoria Assistive Technology Team (UVATT) was born. Over the years, the UVATT has drawn on the knowledge and skills of over 40 faculty members, more than 500 students, and many community volunteers to design and build devices too specialized to be profitable for the private sector. Participants from Engineering, Psychology, Biology, Mathematics, Physics and Music have come together to help people with disabilities better interact with the world around them, and in the process become more independent.
One of the UVATT’s first projects was to design a communications system based on brainwaves so that Victoria teenager Claire Minkley could attend the University of Victoria. A “straight-A” student in high school, Claire’s rare genetic disorder made it impossible for her to speak and extremely difficult to move. Sadly, Claire passed away in 2002, but “The Claire Project” continues, offering hope for people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and similar conditions that they will be able to communicate their wants, needs, fears and joy.
For his work on bringing together scholars, students and community members from across disciplines to make life better for people with disabilities, Dr. Nigel Livingston received the 2005 CUFA/BC Academic of the Year Award.
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – DR. MARIANNE BOELSCHER IGNACE
SECWEPEMC (SHUSWAP) CULTURAL EDUCATION SOCIETY/SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY PROGRAM (SCES/SFU PROGRAM)
The fact that Marianne Boelscher Ignace holds appointments in three SFU departments (Sociology & Anthropology, First Nations Studies, and Linguistics) is testament to her curiosity, her ability, and her desire to see the world as a whole. As co-founder and Academic Director of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Cultural Education Society/Simon Fraser University Program (SCES/SFU Program), Prof. Ignace has sought to provide educational opportunities to the people of the Shuswap First Nation. In doing so, she has become part of the Shuswap community, putting her talents as a teacher and a researcher at the service of the people.
Prof. Ignace has worked with the Shuswap people, and other First Nations around British Columbia, to document aboriginal languages threatened with extinction. She has moved beyond mere documentation, however, to create tools to help teach these languages to aboriginal youth, and teaches these programs herself on top of her other academic responsibilities. In addition to her native German tongue, she is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Secwepemctsin (Shuswap). She is also able to communicate in five other BC aboriginal languages as well as Chinese and Latin.
Prof. Igance’s work with University of Victoria Botanist Nancy Turner in documenting the traditional use of plants by aboriginal peoples has demonstrated the intense connection between the land and the people. It is clear to Prof. Ignace that without a means of expression there is no culture. Thus, by learning their traditional languages, aboriginal young people can hold on firmly to their cultural roots.
For her tireless efforts to preserve and propagate aboriginal languages and culture, and for her longtime commitment to making her research relevant to her community, Dr. Marianne Boelscher Ignace received the 2005 CUFA/BC Career Achievement Award.