Dr. James (Jim) McDonald

Members of ACUNS Council and Board of Directors are saddened by the death of our esteemed colleague and former ACUNS President, Dr. Jim McDonald. Jim passed away on February 20th in Prince George, British Columbia. We fondly remember him as a strong advocate for community-based northern research. As President and Board Member of ACUNS, Jim played an instrumental role in the development of ACUNS’ Guidelines for Ethical Research and in changing our membership policy to include northern colleges as ACUNS’ members. Throughout his long career, he was committed to northern communities and participatory research with Indigenous northerners.

ACUNS staff, directors and members would like to express condolences to Jim’s family at this difficult time.

What follows is the announcement of Jim’s passing from the University of Northern British Columbia:

The University community is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of one of our founding faculty members, Dr. Jim McDonald. James Andrew McDonald was a founding member of the UNBC faculty, arriving in 1994 as chair of the (then) Anthropology Programme. Previously Curator of Ethnology at the Royal Ontario Museum, the creation of UNBC offered Jim a wonderful opportunity to return to an academic environment close to the Tsimshian of Kitsumkalum, the People of the Robin, with whom he has worked since the 1980s as an ethnographer and applied anthropologist. In the early years of UNBC, the breadth of Jim’s commitment to both academia and community saw him at one and the same time as Chair of Anthropology, Chair of First Nations Studies, and Director of the First Nations Centre at UNBC. Jim’s important relationship with the Kitsumkalum community was recognized when he was adopted into the Gisbutwada (Blackfish, or Killer Whale) clan. Much of Jim’s applied work in the community focused on policy and treaty, however education has long been an important aspect of his career. Jim contributed to the early development and success of the Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute (WWNI) and more recently continued to explore educational initiatives with the development of a series of pre-school / primary school readers called Stories of Robin Town (illustrated by Gerald Samson). For three years, Jim was the Executive Director of the House of Learning and Applied Research at the Northwest Community College. Jim was a full professor in the Anthropology Department, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and Chair of the Council of the University of the Arctic.

The flags have been lowered in Jim’s honour.

Jim’s celebration of life will be held Saturday, February 28, at 1 p.m. in Terrace, B.C..

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