Dr. Ross Hoffman, recently named professor emiritus by the University of Northern British Columbia, enjoys his retirement on his new property near Topley. (Contributed photo)

Dr. Ross Hoffman, recently named professor emiritus by the University of Northern British Columbia, enjoys his retirement on his new property near Topley. (Contributed photo)

Topley author named professor emeritus at University of Northern British Columbia

Ross Hoffman was an indigenous studies professor before retiring in July 2020

The man who literally wrote the textbook on the legendary Gisday’wa (Alfred Joseph) has been honoured by the University of Northern British Columbia.

Although going into academia later in life starting at UNBC in 2005 and becoming a full professor only three years before retiring in July 2020, Dr. Ross Hoffman has been named Professor Emeritus.

He said he feels particularly honoured considering his short tenure.

“It feels really good,” he told The Interior News. “I have to say, it wasn’t anything I thought would ever happen having gone to the academic life when I was older. I basically got to UNBC when I was 50, so it hasn’t been my lifelong career, but UNBC has been a great experience.

“This is just like icing on the cake, to have your work recognized by the place that you were proud to be part of.”

Although not a paid position, Hoffman sees an advantage to the emeritus title.

“How I perceive it is you have the opportunity, if you choose, to be involved at any level you want to. So, there’s no must dos.”

He currently has no plans to be involved in anything in particular but does not rule out participating in research projects, sitting on graduate student committees or supervising grad students.

Hoffman was a teacher in the discipline of Indigenous Studies and served as chair of the First Nations Studies Department for six years.

“He established academic and cultural relationships, locally, nationally, and internationally,” noted a press release from the university. “It includes being a founding co-director of the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network nationally and the Cross-Cultural Indigenous Knowledge Exchange program between Maori universities in New Zealand and UNBC.”

He also developed many new courses and served on more than 40 graduate student committees.

One of those courses was an introductory course in Indigenous studies that still uses his 2019 book Song of the Earth: The Life of Alfred Joseph. Joseph was the Witsuwit’en hereditary chief known as Gisday’wa, who was integral to the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision that established Indigenous rights and title.

Proceeds from sales of the book as a textbook for the course go into a bursary fund, which goes to an Indigenous student or students.

The book has been well-received outside the university as well.

“It’s been really great, I got a lot of good feedback from people in various places,” he said. “I think the timing was really good. I’m really glad it was pre-COVID because we could do (the book launch) in the community (Hagwilget).”

Song of the Earth was shortlisted for the provincial 2020 George Ryga Award, which honours an author “who has achieved an outstanding degree of social awareness in a new book published in the preceding calendar year.”

“That was really cool,” Hoffman said.

The book also won the Jim Pojar Award given out by the Bulkley Valley Research Centre for an “outstanding recent publication appearing in any format that contributes to the understanding or sustainability of natural and cultural resources in northwest BC.”

Finally, it received a Jeanne Clarke Local History Award from the Prince George Library Board.

He most appreciates getting calls and notes from Witsuwit’en people who have read it and to whom it meant a lot.”

Hoffman currently has no plans for more books, but isn’t ruling it out either.

“I’m kind of waiting until the spirit moves me,” he said. “I do like to write, but life’s been pretty busy all winter, believe it or not.”

The decision to retire was a personal one.

“I’m 65 at it was time to move on to other things,” he said. “My wife has been retired for about eight, 10 years, so she made it look pretty fun.”

Hoffman grew up in Bulkley Valley. With two of his three daughters and granddaughters living in the Smithers area, he and his wife wanted to be closer to family.

“We’ve always loved the valley, I’m kind of near the headwaters up near Bulkley Lake,” he said. “We found a property we loved and we’re a lot closer to family than we were. We’re just switching gears.”

Just Posted

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Artist’s illustration of the proposed Kitimat LNG facility at Bish Cove near Kitimat. (Kitimat LNG illustration)
Haisla Nation surprised by Woodside pull out from Kitimat LNG project

Haisla Nation council states its main focus is now on developing the Haisla-led Cedar LNG project

(Northern Health logo)
Pop-up vaccine clinic tomorrow at the Save-on-Foods parking lot in Kitimat

The clinic will be this Friday, June 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read