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Ivy Martin

Woman in green jacket standing on a seaside dock with a mountain in the background.
  • Category: Indigenous Community Alumni Award
  • UVic degree: Diploma in Cultural Resource Management, 2023
  • Current hometown: Tofino, BC
  • Birthplace: Port Alberni, BC

About Ivy

Long before obtaining her Diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria, Ivy Martin has played a key role in caretaking, documenting and promoting the traditional knowledge and cultural treasures of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation. She has successfully repatriated several ancestral treasures to the community and helped build a custom space with temperature and humidity control to secure their long time use and preservation. Ivy works with Tlaoquiaht’s Tribal Parks department and archaeologists on cultural surveys to ensure cultural sites and treasures are handled with the proper traditional protocols of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation, and to establish a repository for artifacts found within the traditional territory. She records, documents and shares cultural knowledge, and is currently building an online database and learning resources as part of the nation’s efforts to revitalize the endangered Tlaoquiaht language.

What’s a favourite memory of attending UVic as a student?

I grew up being aware of cultural regalia that went missing from our family. My mother's the eldest daughter of my grandfather, who was chief. I was in my 20s when I started collecting, documenting culture and our history, because it was intriguing to me... and [my grandfather] shared his wish for me to find this regalia and to bring the regalia home… One of my assignments in my Cultural Resource Management program was to do a repatriation request, and I already knew what my family had wanted… Now we have a room that is a designated chief’s regalia space. That’s come from part of my course work with UVic. It's helped me to see how it can be a reality for my community. It’s been an awesome journey, very culturally healing. My experience has made it such a personal thing, connected to that identity in my family, of having that regalia coming home.

What skills or traits are needed to be good at what you do?

A belief in my path, or what I know is a strength in me to create in my community. My family and community have made me feel that they believe in me to do these things. When our cultural regalia came home, at the celebration we set up all the regalia on the table and it was this huge moment for me to see how happy everybody was and how meaningful it was… Of course, I didn't do it alone, because it takes many to make such beautiful things like that happen.

What’s a characteristic in people that is underappreciated?

We don’t shine enough light on our abilities to push forward each day and hold each other up for being able to get up every day. We don't place enough value in our abilities to do that for ourselves.

What a valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

My grandmother always said to be careful with your words because once you say it, there’s no taking it back.

What brings you joy?

Seeing my kids enjoy life. My education with UVic has helped me to create opportunities for my family to learn and experience things that are meaningful.

What do you do to relax?

I was paddling today, and that's always been a tool in my life. It's always been something that I've turned to. It's made me feel like I rise higher. It lifts me. And I'm trying to keep myself in a place of growth. Keep myself in that energy of movement, moving forward and pursuing what I know is good for me.

What's something that always makes you laugh?

There have been occasions in my life where I’m paddling, or visiting somewhere new, and animals respond to my presence in such a way that it seems so unbelievable. This makes me laugh at how crazy it seems. Often, I gain insight in these moments, so I take it as guidance from nature, from our Creator.

What is a secret talent you possess that might surprise people?

I recently learned that I can draw. I illustrated for some language resources and even I was surprised at what resulted.  

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

Nominations for the 2024 awards are now closed. Nominations for the 2025 Distinguished Alumni Awards are open through Oct. 18, 2024.