Breaking Barriers: Cheryl Matthew to lead JIBC’s Indigenization efforts

JIBC offers a range of applied and academic programs, which lead to certificates, diplomas, and degrees

Cheryl Matthew

Cheryl Matthew, recently hired as Associate Director, JIBC Indigenization, in New Westminster, B.C., hails from the Simpcw First Nation near Barriere.   The town derives its name from the rocks/nets placed in the water by First Nations people to act as fish traps, forming a barrier to boat passage on the river.  Cheryl is a proud descendant of those who placed those fish-trap barriers from the Secwepemc Nation and has spent much of her own life breaking down barriers, which have often thwarted the progress and advancement of Aboriginal peoples.

When she graduated from Barriere Secondary School, she originally wanted to go into law.  Inspired by the example of family members who had successfully pursued post-secondary education, she decided that she would follow in their ground-breaking footsteps.  “Two of my relatives completed master’s degrees at UBC in the mid-seventies,” said Cheryl.  “For a person of Aboriginal descent to complete graduate studies today is still relatively rare.  Back then, it was practically unheard of.”

After graduating with an Associate of Arts from Langara College, she completed her undergraduate studies at SFU, with a major in Anthropology (concentration on Social Policy Analysis). Having discovered a passion for social policy analysis, rather than law, and recognizing the contribution it would allow her to make within various Aboriginal contexts, she decided to pursue consulting work, while furthering her studies.

While she was completing her Masters of Arts in Leadership and Training at Royal Roads University, she was applying her learning to the benefit of a number of clients and initiatives, including the BC Assembly of First Nations, Fraser Basin Council, and establishing the Centre for Native Policy and Research, where she served as Executive Director.

Her outstanding work and growing reputation led to an appointment as Senior Policy Analyst with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and a move to Ottawa, with her then fiancé. In addition to relishing the opportunity to influence federal government policy and research, she also turned to her other passion -education- and decided to pursue her doctoral studies in Anthropology (Aboriginal Community, Culture and Place) at Carleton University, which she is scheduled to complete in June 2013.

Having juggled work, education and family obligations for a number of years, Cheryl and her husband Kamil dreamed of permanently settling back home in B.C. closer to her own traditional territory and both of their extended families. She wanted to be sure her two daughters were able to know their Secwepemc heritage. She was familiar with JIBC and its Aboriginal Leadership program, so when the opportunity to take the lead on fulfilling the commitment to indigenize the Institute became available, she jumped at the opportunity.

“The position hit all of the right buttons for me,” said Cheryl.  “The opportunity to leverage my social policy background, my passion for education and research, and the opportunity to make a practical, hands-on contribution to the success of future Aboriginal students in public safety, health and community and social justice was very appealing.  Moving back to B.C. was an added bonus.”

She now turns her attention to breaking down some of those barriers that have obscured Aboriginal views and perspectives, on behalf of students, faculty and staff across the Institute; and leading the way for others to follow.


JIBC is a dynamic public post-secondary institution recognized nationally and internationally for innovative education, training, and applied research in justice and public safety. JIBC offers a range of applied and academic programs, which lead to certificates, diplomas, and degrees and span the spectrum of safety – from prevention to response and recovery.



Just Posted

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

Barriere family airlifted to Vancouver due to carbon monoxide exposure

All members were in stable condition before being transported

Barriere man arrested on outstanding warrants

Kamloops and Barriere RCMP report they have been successful in locatingand arresting… Continue reading

Picket lines are up at Tolko’s Heffley Creek mill

Forestry workers from the Tolko plywood and venner plant in Heffley Creek… Continue reading

New doctor in Clearwater, B.C., looking to help

By Jaime Polmateer There’s a new doctor practicing in Clearwater. Dr. Ola… Continue reading

WATCH: Visitors flock to Barkerville for Christmas event

Check out our video of all the fun at the historic site east of Quesnel

Macron addresses France amid protests; is it too late?

Paris monuments reopened, cleanup workers cleared debris and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday.

CUPE calls off Flair Airlines job action citing job security concerns

The union says it’s going to challenge Flair’s move at the Canada Industrial Relations Board before proceeding with any job action.

Trump looking at several candidates for new chief of staff

Trump’s top pick for the job, Nick Ayers, is out of the running and Trump is now soliciting input on at least four individuals.

Canadian physicist collects Nobel Prize

Canada’s Donna Strickland is one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

BCHL players help Team Canada in shootout win over U.S.

Massimo Rizzo scores the shootout winner at World Junior A Challenge

Canada Post backlog, Greyhound exit creating headaches ahead of the holidays

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month

Top EU court rules UK can change mind over Brexit

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, triggering a two-year exit process

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

Most Read