Derek Thompson – Thlaapkiituup appointed Director, Indigenous Engagement

A message from Mike Allard, Vice Dean, Health Engagement.

Derek Thompson - Thlaapkiituup

I am equally encouraged and delighted to announce the appointment of Derek K Thompson – Thlaapkiituup as Director, Indigenous Engagement in the Faculty of Medicine.

In 2021, Derek was appointed the first Indigenous Advisor for the Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI). Derek – Thlaapkiituup brings over 30 years of relevant experience working together with First Nations organizations and communities across the province and country to achieve wellness through health and related services. His work with REDI has been to foster trust and mutual respect amongst students, staff and faculty in an effort to create an individual and shared understanding of the commitments made by the Faculty of Medicine to redress and strengthen the relationship with Indigenous — First Nations, Inuit, Métis — peoples and communities.

As the Director, Indigenous Engagement, Derek – Thlaapkiituup will provide vision, strategic leadership and diplomacy in advancing the Faculty’s efforts to establish meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous Peoples, nations, communities and organizations. Doing so is a key priority and necessity in supporting the implementation of the UBC Faculty of Medicine Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action (the Response) — and equally important, the work of reckoning with the truth and working together for a better future.

Derek’s unique experiences and perspectives of working in a First Nations context will enhance how the Faculty participates in creating and nurturing key relations with Indigenous — First Nations, Inuit, Métis — peoples, communities and organizations.

Derek – Thlaapkiituup is from the diitiidʔaaʔtx̣ – Ditidaht First Nation, one of fourteen Nuuchahnulth communities along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Thlaapkiituup is one of four recognized Ha’wiih – Hereditary Chiefs in Ditidaht and he is responsible for observing all of his family’s rich cultural and spiritual practices as well as upholding time-honoured authority over the rights and title of his haahuulthii – territory. Ditidaht has village sites along Nitinaht Lake including inside the West Coast Trail. The Nuuchahnulthiat-h see the universe as composed of four great realms. The sea world, their front yard, is overseen by Hilthsuu-is Ha’wilth – literally Undersea Great Spirit Chief. The land and mountain world, their immediate home, is overseen by Ha’wii-im – Great Spirit Chief of the Land. The sky world, watched closely for signs of impending weather, is overseen by Yaalthapii Ha’wilth – Way Up in the Sky Great Spirit Chief. The spirit world is overseen by Ha’wilthsuu-is – Great Spirit Chief Beyond the Horizon. The seas for miles of shoreline and all of the land on the western side of their Vancouver Island home, from Point No Point in the south to Brooks Peninsula in the north, is Nuuchahnulth territory – their haahuulthii.

As the Vice-Dean of Health Engagement, I will support Derek – Thlaapkiituup to fully realize the Faculty’s commitments that are premised on the belief that our work must be fostered with the principle that reconciliation is about defining a new way of living together. Reconciliation as Relationship¹ means that the Faculty will continue to enhance our individual and shared determination to come to terms with the historic past, and simultaneously create a new system of health education that truly transforms health for everyone. With Derek – Thlaapkiituup leading this important work, I am confident and hopeful that we will continue to improve the way we engage with Indigenous peoples and communities.

The Faculty of Medicine is grateful to Namaste Marsden – Masemtxoxw and her leadership as the inaugural Director, Indigenous Engagement and for establishing a strong foundation in advancing the work and implementation of the Faculty’s Response.

Derek – Thlaapkiituup is honoured to be joining the Health Engagement Team, and he’d like to hear from you at Please join me in welcoming Derek – Thlaapkiituup to his new role.

1. The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Volume 6, pgs. 15–17

This message was sent to all faculty and staff in the Faculty of Medicine.