Aaron Derrickson

Aaron Derrickson

The potential is yours.

When dealing with our world’s most difficult problems, there are two choices: Either giving up and admitting defeat, or believing in our potential to shape a different future. That choice is at the heart of UBC’s latest national advertising campaign, called ‘The potential is yours.

Meet Aaron Derrickson, a PhD Candidate in Indigenous Studies at UBC Okanagan, who is featured in the campaign.

What drew you to your field of study?

A: In my eyes, the greatest thing we can learn, as Indigenous peoples, is how to reclaim who we are. This does not only include our culture, but also our leadership structures. I personally believe leadership has tremendous potential in directing the flow and inspiring the vision and spirit of people of any organization. I truly believe that our best bet is for Native people to let our leadership shine for what it is.

The greatest thing we can learn, as Indigenous peoples, is how to reclaim who we are.

— Aaron Derrickson
Is there a specific area of research that has caught your attention?

A: Governance and leadership are my core passions and the focus of my research. Leadership is the person, whether of a group or of an individual, while governance is the appendage and extension from leadership — at least in terms of definitions given in literature. It’s administration; it’s the system and structure; it’s the policy and the culture of thinking that surrounds the identity of the organization that form the concept of governance. Both are crucial and essential to functionality.

What are some problems you’d like to tackle, or to try and help solve?

A: I don’t know if I’d label them ‘problems’ so much as ‘challenges’ that we have with Indigenous communities today. There are so many great people doing amazing work within our communities, both locally and across the country. My goal is to contribute to the conversation of leadership and governance to find out what works for each community, tribe or nation.

How does UBC support you in realizing your greatest potential?

A: I’m really grateful for the Indigenous academics at the UBC Okanagan campus whose research resides within Syilx traditional territory, not just physically, but categorically as well. My supervisors — Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, Dr. Marlow Sam and Dr. Mike Evans, to name a few — really are the support system for Syilx research.

See Aaron Derrickson in the campaign

‘The potential is yours’ campaign highlights the importance of UBC’s research and teaching mission, and demonstrates how the university is helping to address society’s largest challenges.