VIU accepts return of Honorary Doctorate of Laws
from Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Vancouver Island University has accepted the return of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws given to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in 2013.


Turpel-Lafond informed VIU of her decision to voluntarily return the honour after receiving correspondence from the university that it would be moving forward with a process regarding her honorary doctorate. VIU initiated this process following requests from members of the VIU community and calls from the Indigenous Women’s Collective to review Turpel-Lafond’s continued eligibility to hold VIU’s highest honour. As this matter is now concluded, VIU will not provide further comment on Turpel-Lafond’s specific case.


More broadly, VIU condemns Indigenous identity fraud and will continue the consultation process that is currently underway to develop and implement an Indigenous Identity Policy. VIU will also be reviewing its policy and procedure for nominating, awarding and rescinding honorary doctorates. 


“False claims of Indigenous ancestry cause harm to Indigenous peoples,” said Dr. Deborah Saucier, VIU President and Vice-chancellor. “This is why VIU’s future policy on Indigenous identity will honour the contributions of Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community leaders and will include safeguards to confirm Indigenous identity going forward.”


VIU Chemistry Professor gets grant to help develop new mass spectrometry imaging technology

Dr. Kyle Duncan has an NSERC Discovery Grant of $125,000 over five years to pursue his research.
VIU Photo

23/01/04 – Vancouver Island University Chemistry Professor Dr. Kyle Duncan is developing mass spectrometry technology that could help discover new treatment options for cancer.


Dr. Duncan is building custom mass spectrometry imaging technology to help get a more accurate picture of metabolites in tissue. Metabolites are small molecules that control the metabolism of our cells. Changes in the presence or number of certain metabolites in specific regions of tissue can result in disorders or be a sign of serious and chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer.


Current methods to examine tissue metabolites require cutting out specific regions for analysis by a mass spectrometer, but this means information from the adjacent cells is lost. Duncan’s method is to image metabolites directly in specific regions of tissue, which gives a more accurate and detailed picture. To apply this technology, he is currently collaborating with other members of MetaboBC to help understand how metabolites are distributed in healthy and cancerous tissue with the aim of discovering potential treatment options to disrupt cancer growth and progression.


Duncan received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant of $125,000 over five years to pursue his research. He also received a Discovery Launch Supplement, a grant for early career researchers, of $12,500. 


“Our body’s metabolic processes are highly dynamic and can compensate or react to changing conditions at the molecular level, creating a moving puzzle with many intricate pieces,” said Duncan. “The fundamental research enabled by this grant allows me to pursue my passion – exploring this boundary between chemistry and biology.”


Duncan’s state-of-the-art technology provides images similar to those a camera produces. A camera has a combination of red, green and blue pixels to create the image. Instead of colours in each pixel, mass spectrometry image pixels provide a simultaneous snapshot of different metabolites in tissue, anywhere from one to thousands. This more detailed picture will allow scientists to determine if metabolites are higher in particular regions of tissue, and if so, why.