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Kim van der Woerd

Winner, Award for Contribution to Evaluation in Canada, 2014

Citation (by Larry Bremner)

It gives me great pleasure to present Dr. Kim van der Woerd with the Contribution to Evaluation in Canada Award. In 2007, Kim received the AEA Michael Scriven Dissertation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Evaluation Theory, Methodology or Practice. Kim is committed to see Indigenous people flourish in evaluation. She uses her firm, Reciprocal Consulting, as a vehicle to mentor Aboriginal undergraduate students to prepare them for graduate studies. Kim helps to close the gap faced by Aboriginal students by ensuring they have competitive CV's when applying for graduate studies. Kim has a passion for mentorship, capacity building and adhering to culturally informed practices. As noted by one of her nominators, "I cannot emphasize enough the value and importance of the mentorship model she adheres to in supporting Indigenous students professionally, academically, and personally." Kim van der Woerd.

Acceptance speech

My name is Kim van der Woerd. I first want to acknowledge the Ardoch Algonquins, The Golden Lake First Nations, and Mohawks of Akwasane who have welcomed us on to their territory here today.

I am a member of the 'Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay, BC (a tiny island off the coast of Vancouver Island). My traditional name is T,lalisam, which comes from an origin story from the Killer Whale, one of the totems of my family.

In 2011, according to Statistics Canada, 48% of Aboriginal people have post-secondary qualifications compared to 65% of non-Aboriginal people. When you look at university degrees alone, non-aboriginal people obtain degrees at a rate almost 3 times higher than Aboriginal people.

To date, I am the second (of two) Aboriginal student to graduate with a PhD in psychology at Simon Fraser University (and SFU opened in 1965, almost 50 years ago). My mentor was Ruth Turner, an Ojibway woman and she the First Aboriginal person to graduate in that program.

While in graduate school, I very quickly realized that psychology was not the right fit for me, and I won't deny the fact that I have health sciences envy. Despite that, I completed my degree – because I knew that the education I obtained would still give me a different voice in advocating for Aboriginal people.

Linda Smith, the Maori scholar said that conducting research (and in our case, evaluation), is not just for the purpose of hypothesis testing – it is deeply rooted in social justice and re-empowering our Aboriginal communities.Dr. Lorna Williams from the Lil'wat Nation said: Education is the most powerful institution in any society, and teachers are its most powerful agents. As Aboriginal people we know this very intimately. Education has been a force for destruction. It is also a powerful force for construction, and it can produce citizens who are capable of determining their own future.

It is these words, and the words of my mentor, Ruth Turner telling me to "bring others with you" that have inspired me to do the work that I do.

My company, Reciprocal Consulting engages in a mentorship model with Aboriginal students to enhance their research skills and support them in defining their graduate school goals.

Not only do we want to reduce the disparity that exists between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people with regard to education status, we want to ensure that students find the right fit to prepare them for the career they would like to have.

I am deeply grateful to the Canadian Evaluation Society for this award, and making a space for and supporting Aboriginal evaluation.

It is an incredible honour to receive this award; I'm very humbled by it.

I would like to thank Kylie Hutchinson who was gracious to nominate me, and also three of the Aboriginal students I have worked with who generously wrote letters of support – Samantha Tsuruda, Billie Joe Rogers, and Brittany Bingham. These women, and the other students I work with inspire and energize me when working with the communities and programs that we have the privilege to evaluate, and tell their stories.

I would also like to thank my husband Ron Roesch who is also very much a champion of this work and is currently supervising the third and fourth Aboriginal students who will graduate with PhD's in psychology in the next few years.