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UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE - 50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
DR. LEROY LITTLE BEAR
50 YEARS, 50 VOICES
Dr. Leroy Little Bear
Leroy was born on the Blood Reserve in 1941 and began his studies at the University in the spring of 1968. He was a founding member of the Native American Studies Department and he chaired the department for 21 years. Leroy retired in 1997. In addition to the many awards for his service, he was inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2016.
Leroy reflects on his early commitment to Native American Studies at the University and the importance of these studies for students.
The full audio interview will be made available online in late 2017. For more information please contact the University of Lethbridge Archives. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When I first started as faculty… eventually, when I first started out … and like I said, I had that three-year contract, you know, to develop the Native American Studies. I always had the intention that after the three years I was, you know, I was going to leave and have someone else take over and I was going to go do my law practice, that was the idea. But then, in talking with our Elders out there, you know every once in a while, I visit them and so on. Their tone of talk was, hey, these students that are coming to school, you know, they are just like your kids, you know ... they need to be brought up and so forth. And that largely changed my mind and my outlook and that’s where I began to think in terms of, yes ... if you go out and practise law, you can make a good living but you will be out there by yourself, you know. But over here, if we can graduate 10 students, if we can graduate you know, 15 students well then there is that many of you out there. So it was kind of like the notion of capacity building and so on. So that has always been and that has always ... what I have run with and so on. Trying to get more students into University so that the communities, not just the Native communities but the larger community. We need that. And you know it still does me great good because everywhere I go I always have students ... sometimes I can’t remember them ... they will come up to me and say, 'Hey, I am a graduate of U of L. I was there when you were.' They say, 'I don’t know if you remember me, but …' I hear that all the time, you know.
And, now, the University influenced me very much in terms of kind of like opening the doors up, you know looking at the big picture. And that’s where I always now come from, I always look at the big picture as opposed to the little things. If you look at the big picture, you know, you can work out the little details and so on. So I am always looking. The University, it’s opened up my world, opened up my views, and so on ... and to look at the big picture and so on. And in fact, that’s what I hear students say, especially the ones coming from the reserve. They always say, you know, 'Yah, I know what life is like on the Reserve but there’s a whole other world, you know, when I go to the University, now that I have attended the University, it is kind of like the same type of experience.' The world is open … a much bigger world out there.
(Interviewed by Mike Mahon)