Our team


LLB, SJD | Academic Director
turpel-lafond@allard.ubc.ca | 604.822.6941

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Aki-Kwe, is the Academic Director of the 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.


PhD | Executive Director
elizabeth.shaffer@ubc.ca | 604.822.0885

Elizabeth Shaffer is the Executive Director at the Centre. Prior to joining the IRSHDC, she was Director of Collections at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, overseeing initiatives focusing on the digitization, preservation, and pedagogical use of Holocaust survivor testimonies and the development of digital systems in support of anti-racism education and exhibition curation on issues of genocide. She holds a Master of Archival Studies degree and PhD from the School of Information at UBC. Her current work and research focus on critical inquiry 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. She is also cross-appointed as an Assistant Professor for UBC’s School of Information. 



MLIS | Research and Engagement Strategist

David McAtackney is the Research and Engagement Strategist at the Centre. He is originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, but has lived and worked on the traditional, ancestral and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples since 2012. David is a Masters of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) graduate from UBC’s School of Information, and he graduated from this program with a First Nations Curriculum Concentration. In his previous role David was a Research Analyst for over two years with the First Nations Health Authority. Overall, he has worked in a variety of social science and health science research roles on projects with a variety of Indigenous communities and organizations, including with the First Nations and Indigenous Studies department at UBC, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Musqueam First Nation, Gitxsan First Nation, and Cowichan Tribes.

Records and collections


PhD | Metadata Team Lead

Naomi Lloyd is the Metadata Team Lead and oversees the Centre’s content management system. She has a master’s degree in library and information studies from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a doctorate in history from UBC. An immigrant to Canada, Naomi is of South African settler ancestry. Naomi recognizes that modern library and archival practice emerged from, and remains indebted to, a colonial context. In her work with systems, records, and metadata, she is committed to representing disruptions to colonial information practices, and is grateful for the guidance of residential school Survivors, Indigenous information professionals and their allies, and Indigenous communities more broadly, in this regard.


MAS | Digital Systems Specialist

Noah Duranseaud is a Digital Systems Specialist at the Centre. Their work is informed by their background in their masters of archival studies and their time as a Finding Aid Writer at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, where they gained experience working in a facility that focuses on the needs of Survivors. Noah’s focus on the relation between archives and social justice are key elements in the importance of their role at the centre. Noah’s work at the Centre involves research projects using various archives’ digital collections and communicating with the Centre’s collections team.


MAS, MLIS | Digital Systems Specialist

Emily Larson is a Digital Systems Specialist at the Centre, where she focuses on user experience, interactive and emerging technologies, and processing archival materials. She has a MAS and MLIS from the University of British Columbia School of Information. As an information professional, her work centres on the importance of storytelling and the power dynamics of information. She is located in Vancouver on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Education and programming


MLIS | Research and Community Liaison Librarian

Kim Lawson is the Research and Community Liaison Librarian at the Centre. A member of the Heiltsuk Nation, Kim is involved in community governance work. Her Master’s thesis, “Precious Fragments: First Nations Materials in Archives, Libraries and Museums,” was written to acknowledge Indigenous cultural professionals (archivists, librarians, and knowledge keepers), doing important memory, information and cultural work that was largely unknown outside their communities and undocumented in LIS literature. She was Archivist/ Librarian at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs while finishing her MLIS from UBC iSchool and worked at Xwi7xwa Library (UBC). She sees the interconnectedness of education, cultural humility, and information services as a crucial aspect of Indigenous informatics and community resilience.


Education and Programming Strategist

Shannon Robinson is an Education and Programming Strategist at the Centre. She hails from intersection of Treaty 6 and Treaty 7 territory in Red Deer, Alberta, but holds an undergraduate degree in Art History and First Nations & Indigenous studies from the University of British Columbia. Shannon has worked as a program coordinator for the Native Youth Program, supported public programming at the City of Red Deer and held an internship in Education and Public Programs at the Museum of Anthropology. She appreciates every opportunity to work with and learn from community. She strives to establish pathways for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to come together in a good way.


BSW | Youth Engagement Strategist

Jess Boon is the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Centre. Jess is a recent graduate from the UBC School of Social Work, and has extensive experience in youth work positions. 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, working on a youth-driven podcast project and creating a youth advisory council.



Administrative Coordinator

paras.deacon@ubc.ca | irshdc.info@ubc.ca | 604.822.6941

Paras Deacon is the Administrative Coordinator at the Centre. With her expertise in project planning and organization, and institutional knowledge about UBC processes, she oversees finance, human resources and administrative tasks for the Centre. She has previously held roles at UBC’s Equity and Inclusion Office and the First Nations House of Learning, and has experience in dealing with multiple stakeholder groups. She holds a Masters in Community Development from UBC, and has a certificate in conflict resolution from the Justice Institute of BC.  


Project Manager 
luc.desmarais@ubc.ca | 604.822.6941

Luc Desmarais is the Project Manager 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 have led him to developing workshops and best practice procedures for the BC Museums Association, sharing that knowledge across the province.


Katie Powell MA | Collections and Research Assistant kathryn.powell@ubc.ca

Katie is a Collections and Research Assistant at the Centre where she assists the team with systems and metadata development as well as grant applications. A current Dual Master of Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies student at UBC’s School of Information, she lives, works, and learns on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Russell Nesbitt | Research Assistant russell.nesbitt@alumni.ubc.ca

Russell Nesbitt is a Juris Doctor Candidate at the Peter A. Allard School of Law and a graduate of UBC’s BA program in Psychology and First Nations and Indigenous Studies. Russell has previously worked at Xwi7xwa Library and the First Nations House of Learning at UBC and is active on campus on a variety of committees and programs. Russell will be working across a number of portfolios this summer, including research, engagement and communications.

Kenzie Littlelight | Communications and Project Assistant kenzie.littlelight@ubc.ca

Kenzie Littlelight assists with communications and project tasks at the centre while attaining a BA in political science and a minor in law and society at UBC. Kenzie is a proud member of the Tsuut’ina nation on treaty 7 territory in southern Alberta and is thankful for her ability to learn, work, and live on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

2019/2020 Academic Year

  • Stephanie Friesen, Master of Archival Studies, (May 2020)
  • Ramona Litwinowich, Dual Master of Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies (November 2021) 
  • Katie Powell, Dual Master of Archival Studies and Library and Information Studies (December 2021)
  • Marianna Schultz, BFA Creative Writing (May 2021)
  • Jess Wylie, BA in Psychology (April 2022)