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UBC Reports | Vol. 55 | No. 5 | May 7, 2009

Studying the past to build a better future

By Jody Jacob

Aaron Derickson’s heritage has influenced his passion for historical knowledge, particularly regarding Canadian and Aboriginal history.

A member of the Okanagan First Nation, Derickson graduates from UBC Okanagan this June with a BA in History and minor in French, and says his goal is to use this knowledge to create a better future for himself, his community and his culture.

“My family has certainly played a big part in motivating me,” says Derickson. “My grandfather was a chief, a councilor, a farmer, a father and a soldier. He was a lot of things to many people, and he started out with nothing.

“Canada was a different place 50 years ago, and my mother was raised in poverty, even though my grandfather worked very hard. Their stories, and the way they overcame their challenges to help others, has been a strong, positive factor in my personal and educational journey.”

Derickson plans to return to UBC Okanagan in the fall to get his bachelor of education, bringing him a step closer to his goal of becoming a high school French and History teacher. After completing his BEd, he wants to pursue his master’s degree in Canadian Aboriginal history and eventually, when the timing is right, his PhD.

“I decided to become a high school teacher because they have the power to impact their student’s lives and inspire them to find their own passions.

“Not only can I potentially make a difference in the lives of my students, but I can have a positive impact on the Aboriginal community in the Okanagan, and eventually make an impact in Canada and beyond.”

Already Derickson has been working to inspire others and build his community in a positive way. A youth worker for the Westbank First Nation, he has also been involved as a volunteer pastor in his church, and in a program called Connecting Fun for Families, aimed at assisting and educating parents on the reserve.

As Derickson moves forward in his life, with the goal of helping others do the same, he will take with him one very important lesson from his

studies at UBC Okanagan: the art of learning.

“I discovered how to really learn,” he explains. “There is a difference between completing an assignment and learning from the assignment. This was part of the character development I underwent at university. I’d say that the personal growth aspect is my best memory of UBC Okanagan.”

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Last reviewed 11-May-2009

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