Our Team

Marcia Turner, Associate Vice President, Office of Indigenous Education & Engagement

Marcia Turner is Gitxsan from Gitanyow; she is from Lax Gibuu (wolf clan) and Wilps Haijimsque (House of Chief Haijimsque).  She carries the name Ligigalwil, a hereditary wing chief name, and leadership responsibility. Marcia grew up in a large family, was raised in Gitsegukla, and currently lives on Vancouver Island with her four grown sons. She holds a Master’s Degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science with a Minor in Indigenous Studies from the University of Victoria. She is pursuing her Ph.D., with a specific focus on equalizing the roles of matriarchs in governance.  Marcia is Vancouver Island University’s first Associate Vice-President - Indigenous Education and Engagement.

Sylvia Scow, Manager of Indigenous Protocol

Sylvia Scow is from the Dene Nation. Her home community is Liidli Kue (Fort Simpson), Northwest Territories. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology from the University of Victoria. In June 2000, she completed her Masters of Arts in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University. Sylvia is married with two children and has worked in post-secondary education since 1991.

Naomi Bailey, Indigenous Education Navigator

Naomi Bailey  is an Alumna of VIU, a member of the Mid-Island Metis Association and was part of the 60’s scoop.  She comes to us with 25 years experience  in the k-12 system as an Indigenous Support Teacher, classroom teacher, and counsellor.  She has also been an administrator at Stz’uminus Community School and has well established relationships with Snaw-Naw-As, Stz’uminus, Snuneymuxw Nations as well as the Mid Island Metis Association. She has a great breadth and depth of experience and transferable skills that she will be bringing to the position.

  Tasha Brooks, Indigenous Education Navigator, Cowichan campus

Tasha Brooks is from the Cowichan Tribes.  She holds a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration from VIU.  Tasha is currently working on a Doctorate and hopes her research will contribute to Indigenous Education.  In her free time she likes to hike, workout, and listen to audio books. 

  Sherry Mattice, Indigenous Education Navigator, Nanaimo & Powell River Campuses

Sherry Mattice is from the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Territory.  Sherry started her educational journey at VIU as an ABE students and obtained a Diploma in Business administration, a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in International Business from the University of Hertfordshire.  Sherry is passionate about helping the indigenous communities, and promoting education as a tool for success.

Sheila White, Indigenous Employment Navigator, Nanaimo Campus

Sheila White’s traditional name is Yaatqumaat and she is a member of Snuneymuxw First Nation. She is a proud mother of 3 children and grandmother to 2 grandsons. Sheila completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree at VIU after spending many  years working in the Employment & Training Field. She comes to the position with over 20 years’ experience working in the field and holds a Diploma in Business Management from BCIT, Life Skills Coach certificate, Personality Dimensions Facilitator, Job Finding Club Facilitator and Employment Counselor certificate. She is looking forward to working within the VIU Community and getting to know more students and staff.

Rob Mahikwa, Indigenous Education Navigator, Nanaimo campus (on leave)

Robert Mahikwa is a carrier of mixed Anishinaabe, Algonquin, Metis, French Canadian and American ancestry and has been a humble and grateful visitor on Snuneymuxw territories for many years. Robert holds a Master of Indigenous Social Work and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria where he focused his studies on applied Indigenous Research Methodologies and culturally-informed approaches supporting Indigenous youth in and from child welfare. He is a certified Life Skills Coach, has worked directly with Indigenous communities and organizations since 2005, and he has been an Instructor at Vancouver Island University, the University of Victoria, and Camosun College collectively since 2016. Robert was also recently nominated for the National Emerging Voices in Indigenous Scholarship and Research Award from the University of Saskatchewan

Cheryl Stone, Indigenous Development Manager

We're happy to be working with Cheryl Stone in her role as Indigenous Development Manager.

Heather Burke, Learning Facilitator

Heather Burke is Métis with ancestral roots stemming from the Red River Settlement. She also carries Russian, Irish, English, and American ancestry. She is a VIU Graduate (BA, Creative Writing) and recently obtained a Master of Arts in Professional Communication from Royal Roads University. Heather is the first person in her family to have a degree and as a result has become an advocate for learning. She has travelled extensively across BC and Canada to promote and connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners with post-secondary. She is passionate about writing, technology, discourse, and enjoys taking time to be in nature.

Sheldon Scow, Program Coordinator, Community Cousins

My name is Sheldon Scow. My traditional name is Nu’yam’tsa which translates to “legends on the shore” and I am the new program coordinator for the ‘Su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins. My family comes from the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis & Liidlii Kue, that is Gilford Island and Fort Simpson. I am a recent grad of VIU with a BA in Indigenous/Xwulmuxw Studies.

I spent a lot of my time at VIU volunteering for the Community Cousins as they became like a second family to me, and many other indigenous students. I really enjoyed my journey here at VIU and grateful to have an opportunity to work here and help students the way the program has for me.

Tania Smethurst, Indigenous Portfolio Coordinator

Tania Smethurst is originally from Ontario, her ancestry is Scottish and Irish; and she has lived learned and played in both Kwakaka'wakw and Coast Salish territories for all of her adult life. Tania has a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology, and is a proud alumnus of VIU’s psychology department. Her background is in the field of Aboriginal health promotion, and wilderness therapy. She is honoured to have the privilege to be the Indigenous Portfolio Coordinator for the office, and work with students on their educational paths in life. Tania has a partner and a young daughter that is always teaching her about the beauty of life. Tania is passionate about empowering people to feel inspired in their lives, and the lessons one can learn while spending time in nature. Thank you to the Snuneymuxw peoples for allowing us to spend our days in your territories.

Maureen Thomas, Indigenous Community Engagement Manager

Maureen Thomas is Coast Salish; her Coast Salish name is Sa lii pul wut. Maureen is a registered member of the Cowichan Tribes. She spent her early years with her maternal grandmother at Quamichan and attended an all Catholic Indian Day School.

Maureen has worked extensively with several Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island. She has held Senior Management positions, Board of Director positions and as an indigenous advocate, she knows the historical iteration of the Canadian Indian Act have had far reaching implications for all Indigenous Canadians. Her passion is socio-economic transformation within Indigenous communities to move from Indian Act administration to a more robust Indigenous Self-Governing approach.

Maureen is a lifelong learner who believes in living her learning. Her formal education includes:

  • MBA 2008 Royal Roads University
  • Graduate Certificate Human Resources 2004 Royal Roads University
  • BA 2002 Malaspina University College
  • Computer Applications Certificate 2000 Malaspina University College
  • Conflict Resolution Training 1998 Justice Institute of BC

Kim Warkentine, Administrative Assistant to the AVP

Kim Warkentine has lived back and forth between BC and Alberta most her life, and is happy to have found herself now in Nanaimo working at VIU. She has a BA in International Studies and Political Science from University of Northern BC, a MA in Political Science from University of Alberta, a Certificate in Project Management from NAIT, and a Certificate in Social Innovation from MacEwan University. She believes that education has the power to transform, and is keenly interested in language, art, and travel. Kim is grateful to the Snuneymuxw people who allow her to live and work on their unceded territory.