Text Only Page



Senator Lillian Dyck Visits Trent for the First Time
January 1, 2007

"Education is our buffalo"

Senator Lillian Dyck, a well-known advocate for women and Aboriginal peoples and a leading figure in Canada’s scientific community, visited Trent University for the first time on January 29, 2007.

"I am thrilled to be here in the birthplace of Native Studies in Canada," said Dr. Dyck, who hails from Saskatchewan. "This university has a strong, justly deserved national reputation."

During her visit, Dr. Dyck toured Trent’s new DNA Building, engaged in discussion sessions with faculty and students from the Indigenous Studies Department, and met with University p resident Bonnie Patterson.

Dr. Dyck was appointed to the senate on March 24, 2005 on the recommendation of former prime minister Paul Martin. A member of the Gordon First Nations in Saskatchewan, Dr. Dyck is of Cree and Chinese heritage and was one of the first Aboriginal women in Canada to pursue an academic career in the sciences. She holds a B.A. in Chemistry (1966), an Honours degree in biochemistry (1968), a Master of Science Biochemistry degree (1970) and a Ph.D. in Biological Psychiatry, all from the University of Saskatchewan. She has also published numerous articles in the fields of neurochemistry and psychiatry and her research has contributed to developing and patenting new drugs which will be useful in helping to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Dyck is currently a professor in the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Saskatchewan.

During her open exchange with students in the Gathering Space, Dr. Dyck described the challenges and opportunities she faced as she worked toward her science degrees. Students freely shared their experiences in the classroom, and discussed their efforts to foster more dialogue among Native and non-Native students at Trent. When Dr. Dyck learned about some of the social awareness activities organized by the Trent University Native Association students were involved with, she offered to lend her support through her Ottawa office. This suggestion was warmly received by the students.

"Education is our buffalo," explained Dr. Dyck when speaking about future strategies for Canada’s First Nations. "The Plains Cree relied on buffalo to survive - it provided warm clothing, food and sinew. Now the buffalo are gone, and we live in a different time. We need education to provide us with those things we need to survive in order to grow our skills."

Over the years, Dr. Dyck has been honoured with many awards, including: a House of Commons Citation as a Role Model for girls in science in March 1997; a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Science and Technology in March 1999; a Saskatchewan First Nations Women of the Dawn Award in Science and Technology in October 2000; and a Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan in 2005. In 1999, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation also honoured her with a Lifetime Achievement Award.