FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Lights College has appointed local Indigenous advocate and author Helen Knott as its Interim Director of Indigenous Education.
Knott has run the gamut within NLC, beginning as a young mother finishing Grade 12, getting her social services worker diploma, becoming a speaker for Orange Shirt Day, then taking on the role of instructor for the Indigenous human services worker program.
She’s now stepped into another position with NLC.
“Every time I come back, it’s in a different capacity, so I get to learn about the college in a different way but also learn how to function within it and how I can make changes in whatever role that I’m in. It’s kinda cool to see that evolution,” she says.
While in the social services worker program, she got involved in grassroots advocacy, focusing on violence experienced by Indigenous women, and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“Eventually, that led me to a space of looking at how violence against Indigenous lands and Indigenous women’s bodies were connected,” Knott said.
Knott says that work led her to work on a short documentary for CBC, having articles published in various collections and academic journals, trying to bridge the information gap on the subject.
She also published her first book, In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience, in 2019.
In the book, she discusses her battles with addiction and the impact of sexual violence.
“It focused a lot on healing and touched on intergenerational trauma but also resiliency and sisterhood and ceremony, and I found that book really cleared space for writing about other things, too.”
Her second book, Becoming a Matriarch, slated for release in 2023, also discusses grief and loss, but kinship and connections, as well.
NLC says Knott is very passionate about working directly with the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women, helping them on their healing journey.
“For me, I love being able to do that frontline work because it’s an honour to walk alongside people within their journey,” Knott said.
But, Knott says she felt an emotional pull toward helping in a different way when she applied for the director position.
“What can I build instead of being in a reactionary space? That is still needed because there’s healing that needs to be done. But what can I build for Indigenous people that are coming up? And how can I work for the people in a new capacity? That’s how I ended up in this role.” Knott added.
As the Interim Director of Indigenous Education, Knott says she looks forward to connecting with her team and building relationships within NLC and within the communities and with community stakeholders.