Camosun Indigenous Studies student receives B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for 2020
Release date: June 17, 2020
Victoria, B.C. – Shane Baker’s work to engage students through sharing circles and help create a citation guide for visually impaired students, while completing Camosun College’s Indigenous Studies diploma, has led him to being awarded this year’s B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation.
The annual B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s award recognizes an outstanding student enrolled in a post-secondary program who has excelled in their studies while contributing to the life of their institution or community by promoting inclusion, democracy and reconciliation.
“On behalf of Camosun College, we are proud to congratulate Shane on receiving this prestigious medal,” says Camosun College President Sherri Bell. “Shane was nominated for this award by a number of Camosun faculty and staff. He has excelled in his studies and has demonstrated leadership among his peers contributing positively to the college community.”
Legally blind due to a previous brain injury, Shane self-advocated for full inclusion throughout his Indigenous Studies course work at Camosun. Over the last two years, he worked patiently with faculty and support staff in the college’s Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) on several projects to understand, identify and remedy accessibility-related barriers that some students face on campus.
“Before Camosun, I was working at local Indigenous youth conferences speaking on addictions, mental health, identity and the importance of culture,” says Baker. “I knew for my career that I wanted to continue working with youth and walk with them on their path. I first looked into the Child and Youth Care program at the University of Victoria, and then I discovered the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun.”
“I started at Camosun in September 2017 taking the two-year program over three years,” he explains. “My first year was really challenging. I didn’t know anyone on campus, the college felt huge, I was feeling sensory overload and having accessibility issues with my course documents.”
“In my second year, I started making connections with the Indigenous education advisors and instructors, and with the staff in the Library and in CAL,” he adds. “I worked with them to make student course packs OCR (optical character recognition) recognizable, to help future students with visual impairments. My mom always taught me to ‘speak up and use my voice.’”
Shane’s voice provided a window into why equity, diversity and inclusion matter on campus. Invited as a speaker at Camosun’s 2019 Walls Optional educational conference, Shane told of his daily experiences as a student with visual disabilities, such as carrying garbage home from campus because the difference between recycling bins and garbage bins was not clear.
As a result, Shane worked together with Camosun’s library staff to help create an APA (American Psychological Association) citation guide for people with visual disabilities. The outcome of their collaboration was an accessible resource to help other students facing inclusivity issues.
In 2019, Shane was also hired as part of a college research team to work on Camosun’s Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Projectfunded by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. As part of the research, Shane suggested engaging students in Sharing Circles instead of traditional focus groups. Under Shane’s guidance, the UDL Project effectively ran dozens of Sharing Circles with student participants who told their stories. Through the Sharing Circles, Shane taught the research team that every participant’s perspective is equally important and that we must learn to “listen with our two ears but also with our hearts.”
When asked how he feels about receiving the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal, Shane says he’s “extremely proud” of the things he accomplished at Camosun. “I’m proud of the changes I helped make and of the role I played in affecting diversity and inclusivity on campus,” he says. “I’m so grateful for the instructors and staff and of the relationships I have made at the college. Now, I’m planning to transfer into the Indigenous Studies major program at UVic. In the future, I’m hoping to come back to Camosun College as an instructor!”
“Shane Baker is an outstanding Camosun student and his rich contributions to the college community make him a most worthy recipient of the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation,” says President Bell. “We congratulate Shane on all of his accomplishments and are excited to stay in touch with him as his future unfolds.”
Camosun College is one of the largest colleges in British Columbia with campuses located on the Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆpeoples. Established in 1971, the college serves 19,000 learners a year in certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree, post-degree diploma and continuing education programs.
Congratulations to B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Medal winner Shane Baker
Last updated: June 17, 2020 9:45 am