TRU welcomes Simpcw chief Nathan Matthew as new chancellor

TRU’s first executive director of Aboriginal Education appointed as the university’s third chancellor

Nathan Matthew took over the position as TRU’s chancellor from Wally Opal during convocation ceremonies on June 6. (Wade Tomko/The Omega.)

Last Wednesday, TRU’s Board of Governors selected Nathan Matthew, the chief of the Simpcw First Nation of Chu Chua near Barriere, as the university’s next chancellor during convocation ceremonies.

Matthew is TRU’s third chancellor after Nancy Greene Raine and Wally Opal. In addition to being the chief of the Simpcw First Nation, Matthew was also TRU’s first executive director of Aboriginal Education, a position he held from 2006 to 2014 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in 2006.

Matthew has also been heavily involved in furthering Aboriginal education in School District 73.

“He is a highly-regarded educator and leader for aboriginal education in the local, provincial and national level,” said Jim Thomson, chair of TRU’s Board of Governors. “He is a founding member and chair of the School District 73’s First Nations Education Council and member of the First Nation Chiefs Committee on Education.”

Given Matthew’s background with both the university and the local community, the board believed Matthew to be the perfect fit for the position.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Matthew’s background take such an important role,” said Alan Shaver, TRU’s president and vice-chancellor. “The individual holding the honorary position of chancellor is a reflection of the university’s values at the highest level.”

For his part, Matthew says he is committed to upholding the high standards set by his predecessors.

“I’m really committed to upholding the high standards set by my distinguished predecessors, Nancy Greene Raine and Wally Opal,” Matthew said. “I see their footprints and their fingerprints all over the place and it gives me good guidance.”

As TRU’s first indigenous chancellor, Matthew believes that he demonstrates the recognition the university gives to First Nations students as well.

“There are significant numbers of Indigenous students on campus and the university has been working very hard for a number of years to present the kind of learning that’s relevant to the lives of Indigenous people,” he said.

While Matthew was no doubt excited about being appointed as TRU’s next chancellor, thanking friends, family and the community, he wanted to make sure the day wasn’t just about him by praising TRU’s graduates for all their hard work.

“My message to graduates: you are the ones that are important today. Be willing to judge yourself by the aspects of your character that are related to honesty, compassion, respect for others and a sense of humour,” Matthew said. “I really think your job is to reveal your full potential in growing into life, a full life for yourself, your family and your community.”

As chancellor, Matthew will preside at convocation and confer all degrees to graduates. In addition, he will represent the university at major events, including anniversary celebrations, building openings and awards ceremonies.

University chancellors serve three-year terms, which can be renewed. TRU’s first chancellor was Nancy Greene Raine, who held the position from 2004 to 2010. TRU’s last chancellor, Wally Oppal, had been in place since 2010. In their volunteer roles, chancellors are also members of the university’s board of governors and senate.