Nov. 16, 2018

Class of 2018: UCalgary chancellor installed at today's convocation ceremony

Indigenous strategy leaders recognized at convocation
Jackie Sieppert, Shawna Cunningham, and Deborah Yedlin.

Jackie Sieppert, Shawna Cunningham, and Deborah Yedlin.

Today’s morning convocation marks the installation of the university’s 14th chancellor, Deborah Yedlin, who will be sworn in by the Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. The afternoon ceremony will see two important leaders awarded with the Order of the University of Calgary.

Indigenous strategy leaders

In March 2016, the University of Calgary embarked on a journey toward the development of an Indigenous strategy. Two key leaders in this process are being awarded the Order of the University of Calgary — a highly prestigious recognition honouring University of Calgary community members who have contributed in an impactful manner to the university over a period of time.

As co-chairs of the Indigenous Strategy Working Group, Shawna Cunningham and Dr. Jackie Sieppert, PhD, worked tirelessly to connect with the university community and external stakeholders to develop an authentic foundation for UCalgary’s path toward reconciliation.

Their efforts with the working group led to the creation of ii’ taa’ poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s first Indigenous Strategy. During two years of consultation leading up to the strategy launch in 2017, they collaborated with Traditional Knowledge Keepers, Indigenous educators and campus representatives to build a framework that focused on wisdom and collective storytelling from an Indigenous worldview.

UCalgary’s director of the Indigenous Strategy

Cunningham is Métis/Cree from Southern Alberta and now serves as director of the Indigenous strategy. She began her career in Aboriginal student services as a recruiter for the University of Alberta in 1989 and later served as a sessional instructor and program administrator for the Aboriginal Education Project at Mount Royal University.

In 2000, she was hired by UCalgary as the director of The Native Centre and provided developmental leadership for numerous community-based programs and student services, including the Native Ambassador Post-Secondary Initiative, the LYNX Aboriginal Student Career Program, the Aboriginal Student Access Program, and the Indigenous Relations Leadership Program. In 2016, Cunningham was awarded the Chief David Crowchild award by the City of Calgary in recognition of her role in community partnerships for Indigenous programming.

Cunningham received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Lethbridge, where she majored in Drama and minored in Native American Studies, and received her master's degree from the University of Alberta. She is currently pursuing her education doctorate degree with the Werklund School of Education.

Dean, Faculty of Social Work

Sieppert has been a faculty member at the University of Calgary for more than 25 years. After serving in roles as associate dean (academic), associate dean (research and partnerships), and director of e-learning, he became dean of the Faculty of Social Work in July 2010.    

Sieppert’s professional experience includes social work practice in short-term adolescent care, probation, and program planning and evaluation settings. His primary research interests and activities focus on evaluation and accountability mechanisms in social policy and administration of human services. He also has an extensive background in exploring the use of technology in social work practice. 

He received his PhD in Social Work at Arizona State University. Prior to that, he completed a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Social Work at the University of Calgary. 

The University of Calgary’s fall convocation ceremonies will take place on Friday, Nov. 16. The morning ceremony and the installation of the chancellor will be held at 9:30 a.m. The afternoon ceremony and the Order of the University of Calgary presentation will begin at 2 p.m. Both ceremonies are held in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium in the Kinesiology Complex and are open to the public.