Richmond has lost one of its Elders – Cree Elder and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) veteran Rosalyn Ing passed away on July 23.
Her husband, George Ing, also a RCAF veteran, said Rosalyn is “sorely missed” and will be remembered for mentoring First Nations youth to pursue higher education, particularly in the medical field.
“She inspired a lot of students to go to university to do masters and PhDs,” George said. “She set an example for First Nations (but) she did it the hard way.”
Rosalyn was born in The Pas, Man., in 1938 and was an Elder of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba.
She only had a Grade 10 education and had attended residential school, but despite this, she enjoyed studying and learning.
After a three-year service as a fighter control operator in the RCAF and raising her two sons, Greg and Ted, Rosalyn went back to school at the age of 48.
She did her bachelor’s degree in social work at SFU, driving in from their home in Chilliwack as George was working in the military.
She then did her master’s degree in administration and leadership. She was working full-time at UBC when she decided to do her PhD at the same time, completing it in just a year and a half, George explained.
Her master’s and doctoral work focused on inter-generational trauma caused by the residential school system.
She was one of the first people to study the long-term effects of residential schools and the abuse experienced by Indigenous people, and she supported the sharing circles put on by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
After George retired from the military in 1987, the family moved to Richmond.
Even after her retirement, Rosalyn continued to mentor and encourage young First Nations to continue their post-secondary education and she visited many First Nations communities to talk to young people about the importance of education, George explained.
She took an example from Chinese-Canadians who faced discrimination but overcame it through education, George added - within their family of four, they have 10 degrees.
“Roz was definitely a role model,” George said.
Rosalyn also worked with faculty and staff at post-secondary institutions to be more responsive to Indigenous students and their needs, and as a result, brought their perspective into the university decision-making process.
Rosalyn leaves behind her husband George, her son Ted and his husband Sascha and two granddaughters, Nimkish and Aisha.