Dr. Marie Ann Battiste has lived her life striving for integrity and dignity.
She is known as a change agent, a public intellectual and a “guru” of education. As a world-class scholar she reached the summit of education, studying and teaching in some of the world’s top universities. She writes influential books and essays and has been inspiring the renaissance of Indigenous education for the past 30 years.
Dr. Battiste, along with a few others, set the foundation for Native studies in North America. By developing courses that inspire and respect Aboriginal knowledge, teachings, languages and heritages, her vision of education reform set the standard for scholarship in many universities and institutions across North America.
Born to Mi’kmaw parents who did not finish primary school, this “guru” of Aboriginal university education and research says it all started with her parents words of encouragement. “They made me feel good and I liked that. They nourished my learning spirit.” More importantly, her parents passed on Mi’kmaw language and teachings to begin her learning journey. This journey was inspired also by what was going on around her at the time. “Racism, inequality, systemic discrimination, learning from Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement how to make changes — all of these have been inspiring, motivating triggers in my life.”
Her achievements and commitments to Aboriginal knowledge, learning, anti-racism, and decolonization of conventional education systems have created significant pathways and innovations. But through all of her intellectual discourses and writings, it is the Mi’kmaw teachings that guided both her parents in their artistry in basket making and her own learning and achievements — “Do the best you can and take pride in all you do.”