Alanaise Ferguson and George Nicholas honoured as 2022 Distinguished SFU Professors

June 19, 2023

by Pam Lim

From protecting our planet by challenging conventional notions about ecosystem resiliency, to dismantling social and structural factors that limit our sexual and mental health, SFU’s 2022 Distinguished SFU Professors are tackling some of the most pressing issues impacting our local, national and global communities.

Recognized for their exceptional performance and distinguished accomplishments relative to their rank and years of service, the 2022 recipients fuel research discoveries, drive social innovation and seek sustainable solutions to help change our world.

Dr. Alanaise Ferguson and George Nicholas are two of nine SFU researchers honoured as the latest Distinguished SFU Professors, bringing the total to 31 awarded scholars since the program’s inception in 2019.

Dr. Alanaise Ferguson

Dr. Alanaise Ferguson is an Indigenous scientist-practitioner and educator in counselling psychology. Her work aims to decolonize mental health practices by addressing serious manifestations of colonial violence such as gang and gender-based violence. As one of very few Indigenous registered psychologists in B.C., she maintains active service within several Indigenous communities. Ferguson produces work considered meaningful to psychological practice in the areas of identity reclamation, collective healing and restitution from damaging colonial processes including Indian Residential schools. Her work attracted the attention of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, The National Parole Board of Canada, and the National Headstart Association of Canada.

George Nicholas

George Nicholas studies the evolving relationship between archaeology and Indigenous communities, intellectual property and intangible heritage, and the archaeology and human ecology of wetlands. He advances Indigenous heritage protection, social justice and decolonization. He developed and directed SFU’s Indigenous Archaeology Program on the Tk’emlups Reserve in Kamloops—the first of its kind in North America. Nicholas’ commitment to reconciliation and decolonization is evidenced in his work with the SFU-Aboriginal Reconciliation Council, the Indigenous Research Institute’s advisory board and the First Peoples

Cultural Council. He directed the international Intellectual Property in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project (2008-2016). In 2021, he received the Warren Gill Award for Community Impact.

The Distinguished SFU Professor Program is a joint initiative of the Provost and Vice-President Academic and the Vice-President, Research and International. The Distinguished SFU Professor title comes with a special requirement for members to share their work with the public through events such as lectures, panels and presentations.