Archaeologist Dana Lepofsky, right, harvesting potatoes with Gitga’ata community members. The potato garden sits on the 2,000-year-old Gitga’ata village site of Lax’ Galts’ap (Old Town), a 45-minute boat ride north of Hartley Bay in northern coastal B.C. The Gitga’ata haven’t lived at Lax’ Galts’ap for more than 60 years. The potato garden is part of a Gitga’ata-lead, multi-year project in Lax’ Galts’ap that will tell the history of this important place by bringing together interviews with elders who grew up there, archaeology, ethnoecology, language and oral traditions.  As a result of the project, the Gitga’ata have started to rebuild their homes in Lax’ Galts’ap.  

Faculty and Staff

SFU archaeologist Dana Lepofsky wins inaugural Warren Gill Award for Community Impact

October 18, 2017
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SFU professor and archaeologist Dana Lepofsky’s commitment to research partnerships with First Nations communities has earned her SFU’s inaugural Warren Gill Award for Community Impact.

The annual award recognizes an SFU faculty or staff member who has demonstrated a significant, positive impact on the social, economic, environmental and/or cultural fabric of one or more of the communities SFU serves.

“For me, strengthening and respecting local communities is the foundation of healthy societies,” says Lepofsky, “and one of the best ways to counter the global loss of cultural diversity.”

She has spent more than two decades at SFU. Her teaching and research focus on the relationships of Northwest Coast Indigenous peoples to their environments, in the past and the present.

She was among the first archaeologists in the region to include First Nations communities as equal partners in research programs, leading to strengthened capacities in these communities for deciphering, appreciating, conserving, and educating future generations about their past.

Significantly, First Nations communities with which she has worked supported her nomination for the Gill award. They include the Gitga’ata of northern coastal B.C., the Heiltsuk of the Central Coast, the Tla’amin of the Sunshine Coast, and the Sts’ailes of the Harrison River in the Fraser Valley.

“This award recognizes the importance of community,” says Lepofsky, “and I’m honored to accept it on behalf of all the people I’ve worked with and learned from over the years.”

The award is named for the late Warren Gill, who dedicated his 33-year SFU career to helping SFU become an integral part of the local communities it serves. A geography professor, he worked in a number of senior administrative positions, his last as vice-president, University Relations. He helped build SFU’s Vancouver campus, including the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, and developed deep relationships across the community. He passed away in fall 2010. The University has created the Warren Gill Award for Community Impact to ensure his legacy is long remembered at SFU.

Learn more about Lepofsky’s work:

Q&A Western and traditional indigenous knowledge meet at Hauyat