Leona Sparrow is the director of Treaty, Lands and Resources for the Musqueam Indian Band, on whose traditional territories UBC’s Vancouver campus is located. This comparatively small but historically influential band has been prominent in shaping Aboriginal relations in Canada, as well as current practices in First Nations communities. Ms Sparrow has held leadership roles within the band for many years, and is an active participant in First Nations affairs in Canada.
During this time, as the designated liaison between the Musqueam and UBC, she has provided valuable advice to the university as it seeks to improve and expand its relations with the Musqueam and other First Nations peoples. Without her skilled involvement, many significant developments and initiatives on this front would have been difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Ms Sparrow has served on the President’s Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Affairs for the past several years and from 1993 to 2003 was an appointed member of UBC Senate. She has also served on advisory boards for the Peter A. Allard School of Law and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA). In all instances, her guidance has facilitated a new and far more effective approach to working with First Nation communities, based on respect and productive collaboration.
At MOA, she helped introduce a community approach to the development of exhibitions. Novel at the time, this emphasis on partnership is now widely adopted elsewhere. Ms Sparrow also co-developed the Reciprocal Research Network that enabled online access to and interactive research among 14 museums featuring artefacts from the Pacific Northwest. The network links researchers with First Nations communities, and has reintroduced First Nations communities to collections reflecting their own histories.
Her work with the Peter A. Allard School of Law included advice on the complex issues surrounding legal education and indigenous populations in BC and Canada, and the school’s development of an Indigenous Legal Studies Program. She even had a hand in the design of Law’s new home, Allard Hall, ensuring it reflected the Musqueam’s connection to the land it stands on and the major role played by the Musqueam in establishing Aboriginal law in Canada.
Ms Sparrow’s contributions to UBC are important and influential. The quality and scope of the university’s First Nations-related outreach, research, and educational programs owe much to her thoughtful and insightful guidance.