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New TRU chancellor is Cariboo Chilcotin leader in Indigenous education

DeDe DeRose, of Esk’etemc Nation (Alkali Lake), will take up the role on April 23, 2024

One of the Cariboo’s own will be stepping onto the stage as the new chancellor of Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

The university made the announcement Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, at an event in Kamloops.

DeDe DeRose, a leader in Indigenous education, was born in Williams Lake and grew up on and around ranches in the Cariboo Chilcotin region. She is Secwépemc and a member of Esk’etemc Nation (Alkali Lake).

“I’m very honoured and humbled to be taking on this incredibly important role,” said DeRose, when she spoke to Black Press Media on Feb. 23.

DeRose is the eldest of six children, and said she spent a lot of time on ranches and at rodeos, something her family is still involved in today.

She is the daughter of Cecilia DeRose, who taught Secwepemctsín (Shuswap language) and culture at schools in Williams Lake.

DeRose said her mom, Cecilia, had a profound impact on her, and she found it hard to put into words the importance of her mom as a role model. Cecilia is a residential school survivor who always emphasized the significance of education. DeDe said her mom taught all six of her children to be proud of who they are as Indigenous people.

“We’re very blessed to have the very best of a mother,” said DeDe, noting both her parents worked very hard their whole lives while also modelling love and respect for everyone.

DeDe graduated from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House in 1975 and, in 1976, was the Williams Lake Stampede Princess. The same year, she enrolled in what was then called the Native Indian Teacher Education program in Williams Lake. She’d been recruited to the program by Liz Robertson, a well-known education leader and advocate in the community.

“She was a dear friend and a wonderful educator,” said DeRose.

After teaching in elementary and secondary schools in Williams Lake for nine years, DeRose went to UBC for a diploma in education and then got a job in Indigenous education with the Ministry of Education and worked with school districts all over B.C.

She completed her master’s degree in 1993 and took a position as a principal in Kamloops in order to spend more time at home with her sons Matthew and Tyrell Bates, as she was a single mom at the time.

She worked in Kamloops for the rest of her career, but was seconded by the Ministry of Education to be the Superintendent for Indigenous Student Success. She was seconded by the Ministry of Education two times in her career.

DeRose retired from teaching in 2015 and stayed in the Kamloops area, where her children and grandchildren live, though she said rodeo and visiting her mother still brings her to the Cariboo Chilcotin often.

DeRose grew up in a rodeo family, and her family continues to be involved in the sport today. She and her husband, Allan Mobbs, now spend as much time as they can with their seven imch (grandchildren), including at Little Britches rodeo events.

She said they try to be the grandparents to them her parents were to her sons.

DeRose also had a close relationship with her own grandparents Matthew and Amelia Dick. Matthew Dick was the goalie for the famous Alkali Braves hockey team. They called him “the man with 1,000 eyes” recalled DeRose.

She herself still rides her “spoiled” horse named Heart and she and her husband ski every weekend they can at Sun Peaks with their sons Matthew Bates and Derek Mobbs. DeRose said she is working towards a goal of being a black diamond skier.

She will be taking over the position of chancellor from Nathan Matthews, a former chief of the Simpcw First Nation, and prominent educator and advocate for First Nations education, who has held the role for six years.

The duties of a chancellor include playing a central role at graduations, and so she will be taking the stage to honour graduates from TRU for three days in June at the university’s three graduation ceremonies.

She will also attend meetings with partner organizations and university board and senate meetings.

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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