Yvonne Vizina as a Leader
DKG member Yvonne Vizina (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada) is an educator, recipient of the 2014-2015 DKG Annie Webb Blanton Scholarship and the 2017 University of Saskatchewan Indigenous Graduate Student Council Award for Research Excellence. She is currently completing her doctoral studies at the School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Saskatchewan.
Vizina states, “Leadership has a different connotation in Indigenous communities. A good leader is not necessary up at the front but is one who leads by example, not elevating themselves above others. Old people tell us about migrating geese – the one in the front calls loudly to encourage others, eventually veering off to take a place at the back. Leading is a circular process and you have to make sure everyone in the circle is strong enough to lead.”
Vizina’s early years living in a non-urban environment where she learned to love nature and have an appreciation of the outdoors were the seeds for her educational future. “The majority of people now live in urban centers. And how do you reconnect people to the natural world?” Her extensive curriculum vitae reflects her passion in answering this question. Her pre-service training in Prince Albert, SK, was “steeped in traditional Indigenous knowledge.” She had plans to integrate traditional knowledge into her teaching; however, there were virtually no such curriculum materials for science education. Being resourceful, she drew on her own knowledge. This experience led her to do a graduate studies research thesis, Metis Traditional Environmental Knowledge and Science Education, and continued into her doctoral studies research thesis, Sustainability and Indigenous Knowledges in Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Places of Learning. Vizina has helped mentor other Indigenous graduate students at the University of Saskatchewan and is currently a member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Natural, Social and Human Sciences Sectoral Commission advising on elements related to Indigenous peoples in Canada. Her thoughts about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, “The previous Millennium Development goals were geared toward developing countries with virtually no role for the developed countries. Now, the SD Goals have called everyone to action. We are all rowing in the same direction now.”
In Saskatoon, Vizina has served as chapter president, communications/secretary, on the program committee, as Saskatchewan state organization conference planning committee member and as Etagraph/newsletter editor since 2013. She has shared her expertise throughout the world and at DKG events – Saskatchewan State Organization 2013 Conference, Saskatoon Chapter programs and the 2015 Northwest Regional Conference. She says, “DKG meetings are one of my bright spots. DKG has introduced me to women I would never have met with different backgrounds and different specializations. They are not just DKG members, they are my friends.”