Celebration of the Life & Work of Professor Michael Marker (1951-2021)

(Released by the Department of Educational Studies, UBC, Vancouver, BC)

On Saturday, May 11, 2024, from 2:00-5:00PM, The Department of Educational Studies (EDST) held a special gathering and journal launch at the Centre for Indigenous Land-Based Education, Research and Wellness at xwc̓ic̓əsəm in honour, memory and celebration of the life and work of Prof. Michael Marker (1951-2021). The gathering was co-sponsored by EDST, the Indigenous Research Partnerships, and the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre (IRSHDC) at UBC.

The event started with a Welcome and Land Acknowledgement by Musqueam Elder Larry Grant, followed by the Sacred Fire and Circle Ceremonies performed by Dr. Eduardo Jovel and Dr. Alannah Young. They brought everyone into the sacred space and generously shared words and songs in honour and memory of Prof. Michael Marker. This was a magical moment in having all gathered around the Sacred Fire – standing for gathering, wellness, and healing – hearing the stories, drummed songs, and honouring ancestors and all of Creation.  



We are grateful to Kristin Kozar (IRSHDC Executive Director) and Kelsey Sablan-Martin (IRSHDC Research & Engagement Assistant) for thoughtfully choosing the blankets  for the ceremony “Ten” by Musqueam artists and sisters, Debra and Robyn Sparrow for Prof. Marker’s wife, Cecilia; and the blanket “Spirit of the Sky” by Musqueam artist Leila Stogan for each of Prof. Marker’s children Nakos, Yonina and Miska Marker. The blanketing was led by Dr. Alannah Young and Dr. Patrick Stewart.

Prof. Hartej Gill presented a brief overview of the online Special Issue. Francine Emmonds shared words for Prof. Marker from Elder Verna Kirkness. Prof. Deirdre Kelly then invited journal contributors and members of the audience to an open mic sharing. Prof. Sam Rocha performed a song he composed, “Joy Comes in the Morn,” followed by musicians Jim Edmondson and Tim Hall, who were part of Michael’s folk singers community at the Vancouver Folk Song Society. They played “This World Goes ‘Round and ‘Round” (by Tom Paxton) and “Raking Leaves” (composed by Michael Marker, with Pete Seeger). The gathering was concluded following a feast acknowledgment led by Jason Cook, catered by Salishan Catering, with a group photo taken. 

The event brought together Elder Larry Grant, Prof. Michael Marker’s family and community members, EDST emeriti, alumni, and current students and faculty members. EDST Web and Communications Coordinator, Carl Luk, had designed and produced a distinctive commemorative booklet celebrating Prof. Michael Marker’s life, enriched by photos and stories provided generously by the family. The booklet was gifted to the contributing participants and Prof. Marker’s family members. 

The gathering, meticulously planned, was a great success thanks to the unwavering and professional organizational skills, care, and attention to all needed Indigenous protocols by Prof. Hartej Gill, Prof. Deirdre Kelly, EDST, Journal intern Kelsey Sablan-Martin, Kristin Kozar, Dr.  Alannah Young and Prof. Eduardo Jovel. The organisation of the gathering benefitted from the sustained support and unwavering commitment of EDST’s Administrative Manager Holly-Kate Collinson-Shield and Web and Communications Coordinator Carl Luk.

EDST and the event partners are grateful to photographer and videographer Quinn Kelly; the Special Issue authors; and the many volunteers who made this day possible, including Dr. Gloria Lin, Dr. Kadi Purru, Daniel Gallardo, Dr. Victor Brar,  Claudia Paezvaras, Deanna Cook, Miki Konishi, Adan Ass’ad, Chandran Whitegill, and Suher Zaher. 

Most importantly we are grateful to Professor Michael Marker for all that he gave of himself to us at UBC and beyond. 


UBC, Monday, May 13, 2024