Our team

General information
604.822.6941 | irshdc.info@ubc.ca

Research and reference inquiries: irshdc.reference@ubc.ca


Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-kwe)LLB, SJD | Academic Director
turpel-lafond@allard.ubc.ca | 604.822.6941

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Aki-kwe is the Academic Director of the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. She is a Canadian lawyer, former judge, legislative advocate for children’s rights and a professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law. She holds a law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University, a master’s degree in international law from the University of Cambridge, and a doctorate of law from Harvard Law School. As a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Aki-kwe was the first Treaty Indian to be named to the judicial bench in Saskatchewan. She has served as a Representative for Children and Youth for BC, and continues to draft legislation, provide legal advice and speak to all levels of government.


Elizabeth Shaffer | Director, Digital, Strategic and Indigenous Partnerships
elizabeth.shaffer@ubc.ca | 604.822.0885

Elizabeth Shaffer is the Director of Digital, Strategic & Indigenous Partnerships at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. She previously worked at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre as the Director of Collections, overseeing initiatives focusing on the digitization, preservation, and pedagogical use of Holocaust survivor testimonies and collections. Elizabeth recently completed her PhD at UBC iSchool. Her current work and research focuses on critical enquiry into how information policy, practices and systems emerge and evolve in contemporary digital spaces, with particular attention to social justice issues, impacts of colonialism, and collections that document traumatic human events.


Tricia Logan, PhD | Assistant Director, Research and Engagement
tricia.logan@ubca | 604.822.9921

Tricia Logan is the head of Research and Engagement at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. Tricia is a Métis scholar with more than 18 years of experience working with Indigenous communities in Canada. She joined the Centre in January 2019, and has held roles at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Legacy of Hope Foundation. She has a Master of Arts in Native Studies from the University of Manitoba, and completed her PhD in History at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her PhD is entitled Indian Residential Schools, Settler Colonialism and Their Narratives in Canadian History. Originally from Kakabeka Falls, Ontario, Tricia has worked with survivors of residential schools, completed research on the Métis experience in residential schools, and worked with Métis communities on a Michif language revitalization project.


Charlene Bearhead | Education and Programming Lead

Charlene Bearhead is the Education and Programming Lead at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. She previously served as the Education Coordinator for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and as the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Relations Coordinator for the Alberta Schools Board Association. As an education activist with more than 30 years of regional, national and international experience, Charlene’s work focuses on education on social justice, activism, reconciliation, intergenerational trauma, the legacy of residential schools, and issues affecting Indigenous peoples.


Jessica Woolman, MLIS | Communications Strategist
jessica.woolman@ubc.ca | communications.irshdc@ubc.ca | 604-822-6603

Jessica Woolman is the Communications Strategist at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. She has worked on several exhibitions as part of an annual Indigenous history month awareness campaign at UBC, working with communities and UBC partners. She has served as a consultant for both the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) band office and community members on various communications and marketing related projects, including the development of a series of children’s books. She has held roles at UBC Library and UBC iSchool as a communications and marketing coordinator, and has more than a decade of experience working in libraries. She has a settler background, but has lived on the Musqueam reserve for the past 5 years.


Naomi Lloyd, PhD | Metadata Team Lead

Naomi Lloyd is the Metadata Team Leader at the Centre, and oversees the Centre’s content management system and data model. She has an MSc in Library and Information Studies from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a PhD in history from the University of British Columbia. Naomi works closely with the Centre’s researchers, web developers and technology team. Her research is informed by her childhood in South Africa and her subsequent work as an anti-apartheid activist.


Jess Boon, BSW | Youth Engagement Strategist

Jess Boon is the Youth Engagement Strategist at the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. Jess is a recent graduate from the UBC School of Social Work, and currently also works as a youth worker for the East Side Boxing Club. She previously worked in East Van with youth in or from foster care. Her focus on empowering youth voices and making meaningful accommodations for marginalized youth supports her work at the Centre developing content regarding child welfare and related topics, and creating a youth advisory council.


Luc Desmarais | Administrative Coordinator
luc.desmarais@ubc.ca | 604.822.6941

Luc Desmarais is an interm Administrative Coordinator at the Centre. Luc has worked as a museum professional in British Columbia for over 10 years, specializing in artifact collection management, exhibition development, and museum project management. With notable stints at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and Beaty Biodiversity Museum, the breadth of his experience has allowed him to emerge among the young leaders of Vancouver’s museum scene. Luc’s experience and knowledge on the subject of deaccessioning museum artifacts has led him to developing workshops and best practice procedures for the BC Museums Association, sharing that knowledge across the province.