Meet Indigenous Initiatives Director Justin Brooks

Justin Brooks

Justin Brooks joined the Faculty of Human and Social Development (HSD) as director of Indigenous Initiatives in June. Before joining us, he worked at First Peoples House as the Indigenous Student Support Coordinator for Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement (IACE). For more than 15 years, Brooks has worked extensively with Indigenous youth from across Canada in fields including corrections/parole, social work, program development, and youth mentoring. Indigenous students in HSD can reach him via . Read on to find out more. 

Tell us a little about yourself and the experience you’re bringing to this role as Director, Indigenous Initiatives.

I grew up in St. Mary’s First Nation, located in Fredericton, NB. My people are known as Wolastoqiyik (Malisset). I was adopted by my maternal grandmother and raised with the traditions of my ancestors. I was later informed that my biological father was of African Caribbean decent, and I hold all my cultures very close.

I’ve been involved in traditional practices most of my life, mostly Pow Wow singing and drumming, language, and ceremony.

I began my professional career in 2005 as a federal correctional officer. I did that for four years, then transitioned into parole. I worked for the feds for over a decade. From there I transitioned into social work and completed my master’s degree in organizational leadership with Royal Roads University. I found a passion working with Indigenous youth first in a corrections environment, supporting male Indigenous offenders and then youth-in-care here in Victoria as a social worker. This was my segue into working as the Indigenous Student Support Coordinator at the First Peoples House before moving into my current role as Director, Indigenous Initiatives.

What is your vision for this role as Director of Indigenous Initiatives, and how do you see it evolving over time?

The director role is quite complex, encompassing various strategies and goals. For me, the main aspect of this position is supporting our Indigenous students in HSD. HSD has the highest number of Indigenous students of any faculty at UVic, with more than 50 per cent of all Indigenous students on campus. The success of our Indigenous students is a high priority for me. As a father of Indigenous youth, I feel a sort of calling when it comes to supporting our students' lives and accomplishments.

Supporting staff and faculty to Indigenize and decolonize practices is also a priority. The UVic Indigenous plan beautifully lays out expectations for the coming years for our UVic family. It’s been a pleasure to work with the HSD family around these strategies.

What would you like faculty, staff and students to know about this position and/or you?

I would like our HSD family to know that we are here in anyway that we can serve. The success and wellbeing of our house is our absolute priority.

We are attempting to be proactive in our support for students by offering writing supports and other seminars to build capacity and set students up for success. We are also addressing the difficulties that come with university life with multiple crises taking place in BC. Students are struggling to make it in their personal lives with multiple concerns. HSD is committed to meeting students where they are and using a dynamic approach to manage concerns.  

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I know that for myself and all Indigenous staff and faculty that the work we do here goes far beyond the understanding of a career. The work we do here is spirit work. To support the leaders of the future is some of the most honourable work one can do. This is in line with the philosophy of supporting the seven generations to come. This is the Creator's work, supporting our children. I hope that this sentiment can echo through our HSD house.