Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) receives Indspire Award for Education

Indigenous excellence

Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) receives Indspire Award for Education

Queen's Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) was named one of 12 winners at the 2024 Indspire Awards, set to be televised on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

By Eddie Daniels, Communications Manager, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion)

May 2, 2024


Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill)

Kanonhsyonne is one of 12 people to be recognized by Indspire this year, an organization that has been celebrating excellence in the Indigenous community since 1985. (Indspire)

Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Queen’s Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation) has spent multiple decades in service to the Indigenous communities in the Kingston and Tyendinaga regions, as well as across Canada. Her life’s work has been honoured with the 2024 Indspire Award in Education. 

AVP Kanonhsyonne is one of 12 people to be recognized by Indspire this year, an organization that has been celebrating excellence in the Indigenous community since 1985. The organization’s awards series has taken place since 1993. 

“It has been my honour to serve my community and to help our culture, language, and ways of knowing thrive when some have worked hard to wipe those fundamental customs from society,” says AVP Kanonhsyonne. “Knowing that more Indigenous families are growing closer to their heritage and speaking the language, fills me with joy and helps me envision a bright future for those who share Turtle Island.” 

Kanonhsyonne is a Clan Mother of the Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation at Tyendinaga, and has served as AVP (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation) since 2018. Her influence on campus and within the community has had a positive ripple effect throughout the region. 

Kanonhsyonne taught and coordinated an adult education program in Tyendinaga, and later founded a private high school, Ohahase Education Centre, which is rooted in Haudenosaunee culture. She also co-founded the Kanhiote Library and helped create Haudenosaunee Opportunity for Personal Education (HOPE), an alternative learning program for Mohawk high school students.

“Kanonhsyonne is a deeply treasured member of the Tyendinaga and Queen’s communities and for good reason,” says Stephanie Simpson, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion). “Her efforts to educate Indigenous youth and adults, while also preserving—and in some cases introducing—Indigenous culture have had tremendous impact. She has been selfless in her dedication to reversing the harms caused to Indigenous communities through colonization and racism and is deserving of this honour and so much more.” 

As a person dedicated to educating those in her community, Kanonhsyonne has helped many obtain the sacred link between language and culture. She is a founding member of Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na Language and Cultural Centre (TTO) in Tyendinaga, which is dedicated to the revitalization of the Mohawk language, culture, and worldviews. In 2018, TTO partnered with Queen’s University, bolstering the institution’s offerings of Indigenous academic programs. 

Kanonhsyonne has led the Queen’s Office of Indigenous Initiatives (OII), which assists in promoting Indigenous knowledges and practices. The office plays a vital role in supporting units to incorporate Indigenous histories and perspectives into curriculum and supporting researchers engaging with Indigenous peoples and communities. 

Kanonhsyonne’s influence at Queen’s began long before her role with the OII, when she joined the university in 1988 as an adjunct faculty member in the Queen’s Faculty of Education. Over the following ten years, she would help establish the Indigenous Teacher Education Program (ITEP) and serve as the program’s academic co-director from 1997 to 1998. 

In 2010, Kanonhsyonne, who received her Bachelor of Education degree from Queen’s in 1999, was named the Director of Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre at Queen’s. 

Her contributions have been rooted in ensuring Indigenous ways of learning and being are incorporated into the fabric of the Queen’s community. For instance, Kanonhsyonne coordinated the revitalization of the Indigenous Council of Queen’s University, she assisted in the development of the Indigenous Studies Minor, and was a member of Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force

The 2024 Indspire Awards, which took place April 18 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, recognizes Indigenous youth and professionals who have accomplished exceptional achievements in their lives and careers, while displaying and promoting pride in their culture. Recipients are also hailed as role models not just within their communities, but also regionally and nationally. 

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on June 21, 2024—National Indigenous Peoples Day—on APTN and CBC.

Learn more on the Indspire Awards website.

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