Elizabeth Ferguson (BA '03, MA '05, Native American Studies), the coordinator of the University of Lethbridge's Native Student Advising office, has received an award from the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW) for her work to support First Nations, Métis and Inuit students at the U of L.
As the first recipient of this award from the U of L community, Ferguson joins more than 300 women from 76 communities across the province who have been recognized for their strength and accomplishments.
"Elizabeth has single-handedly developed a lot of the support systems we have in place for our FNMI students, and has done so in a resourceful, gracious and determined way," says Dr. Judith Lapadat, the University's associate vice-president, students. "I am extremely proud of her, as are our staff members who work with her to support our FNMI students. Elizabeth is a key point of contact for all of them at some point in their university life, and does everything she can to make their experiences here better. As a U of L graduate who returned to school as an adult, Elizabeth has the inside knowledge they appreciate."
The U of L currently has more than 400 FNMI students from all parts of Canada.
Ferguson, a member of the First Nations Dene community, is well known on campus and in the community for her advocacy for, and wholehearted participation in, numerous activities that showcase the achievements of the U of L's FNMI students. These include an event for families and graduates at spring and fall convocation ceremonies, the annual Native Awareness Week celebration and her role in enhancing the presence of Elders on campus.
She also started an FNMI student-specific food bank, made sure that the campus food services providers learned how to make fry bread, berry soup and other traditional foods at FNMI-focused events and works with students to provide settlement assistance when they relocate to attend school.
Her external community activities include a city-appointed position as the First Nations representative on the board of Economic Development Lethbridge, among many other commitments.
"Elizabeth Ferguson has been invaluable in the cultural, spiritual and scholarly advancement of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students on the campus of the University of Lethbridge and has served the larger campus community through her leadership," says Dr. Carol Williams, a faculty member and Chair of the Department of Women and Gender Studies. "She has successfully shown the University how, and why, ensuring student confidence through cultural specific and sensitive policy and practices is crucial to their success."