People Profiles

Nicole Read, MA, History

October 29, 2015
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Nicole Read is digging up the past to answer some of today’s toughest problems.

Read is Mayor of Maple Ridge, BC, one of the top ten most populated cities in Metro Vancouver. She is also the founder and president of The History Group, one of the country's largest providers of historical research for civil litigation processes. She completed a Master’s Degree in History at SFU in 2003.

As Mayor, Read hopes to raise awareness of socially-relevant issues through such projects as the Mayor's Homelessness Solutions Task Force—and is using her years of archival skills to help make that happen.

“Maple Ridge, like every community, struggles with the gaps in the delivery of addiction and mental health services and the reality that Canada has no national housing strategy. During my mayoral campaign I realized that there were a group of citizens, living among us who had no voice and were hidden from view. Part of helping them create a new reality for themselves meant looking at how we got here as a community,” she says. 

A relative newcomer to the field of politics, Read explains that her move was inspired by her work with the History Group, helping validate claims against the government by residential school survivors—in particular, her experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.   

“My work with First Nations communities helped me understand the power of listening, learning, compassion and the power of hope. Through our work solidifying the history of what happened more people can now understand the impact of residential schools on these communities—which is a huge part of the healing process. Seeing the impact of my work at this level is what made me to want to make a difference through government,” says Read.

Read credits her graduate school experience for both where and what she is today.  

“History was very rigorous program. It encouraged me to dig deeper, to find all the sources, to review the sources, to get down what really happened and not impose my own view. It has been an invaluable skill to push myself harder to look for answers in everything I do.”

Read further explains that what she gained through the program wasn’t just a sound grounding in deep, critical research but also a stronger sense of herself.

“The faculty gave me the confidence to become something better, to become the best version of  me — who I am is so tightly linked to that experience,” she says.

Author: Jackie Amsden

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