D. Memee Lavell-Harvard
The life of an educator is not an easy one. Growing up watching her grandmother and mother teach in aboriginal schools, faced with both the emotional strain and financial drain of the education system, Memee Lavell-Harvard never expected she would one day engage in that very same system. However, motherhood proved to be a powerful motivator and she decided to focus her attention on breaking the cycles of poverty in aboriginal communities and assuring a better future for aboriginal children in Canadian society through culturally appropriate educational reforms and culturally sensitive support mechanisms.
Responding to the abundance of research that exists addressing the epidemic of low academic achievement and high drop out rates among aboriginal populations in Canada, Memee examines the experiences of those few aboriginal people who have successfully completed post-secondary education, seeking to help define appropriate directions for educational restructuring. Proud member of the Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island, her work represents a new approach to the topic, as most work to date focused on the deficits, disadvantages and failures of aboriginal students.
One of the difficulties of being a high-profile aboriginal academic is finding the time to balance the demands of her research along with the multitude of events and initiatives she is invited to participate in. Despite this, she maintains her focus on giving back to the academic and aboriginal communities and continues to manage various commitments.