Message From WIPCE Founder And Patron

Dr Verna Kirkness 


June 8, 1987 was an exciting day for all 1500 delegates from 17 countries in attendance at the first World Conference of Indigenous People on Education at Xwmelch’sten, Squamish Territory and UBC located on the Musqueam traditional territory in Vancouver, BC.

We gave thanks to the Great Spirit for bringing us together in a “celebration of learning”. We asked that joy, trust and wisdom would guide our deliberations.

At that time, a sense of a world Indigenous family was born. The theme, “Tradition, Change and Survival” related to the need to bring Elders and Youth together in a common understanding based on our traditional knowledges. It was to consolidate our strength and confidence to grow within our own cultures as stated in our sub-theme, “The answers are within us”.

Now, it is 2022 and we have experienced yet another WIPCE that has in the past 35 years travelled the world. Praise to all who carry on the work for by doing so and caring, we honour our ancestors as we strive to live true to ourselves as Indigenous people.



Dr Verna Kirkness, WIPCE Founder and Patron

The answers are within us

How Verna Kirkness changed Indigenous education

Verna Kirkness has dedicated her life to improving education for Indigenous students. Listen to her story told by her nephew, Doug Beyer.

Produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.