Have you met… Trevor Phillips?

Have you met Trevor Philips, Manager Indigenous Recruitment? Spend the next few minutes getting to know him a little better.

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Have you met Trevor Philips, Manager Indigenous Recruitment? Spend the next few minutes getting to know him a little better.

Where is your favorite place on campus?

What!? Do I have to choose one? I used to nap in the lobby to the Myer Horowitz as an undergrad, it was so nice and quiet. I also really love the views from the 5th floor of Rutherford North - the river valley is so beautiful. I have always loved the Humanities turtle and the ALES Atrium, obviously.

I was also a big fan of the pre-2008 Power Plant, and I'm just super-excited that we have a train to downtown.

Tablet or paper?

Paper. I'm old-school that way. Tablets are too cold and impersonal.

Name one thing you've brought to work from home.

My Métis flag - I take it with me everywhere. I bought it from a guy with a van full of flags in High Prairie, and I've had it up in my space everywhere I've worked - when I was working in community, at U of M, etc. It's who I represent.

What is the one thing you can't live without?

I've gone through spurts where all my favourite things have been gone, and found that what I love adjusts. But if I didn't have some way to listen to music, I would go looking for a way to constantly be plugged into music.

When I hop on my bike for my commute I listen to Anderson Paak. I'm a big fan of techno and like hip hop and house, so artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Childish Gambino, Calvin Harris and Leon Bridges' new stuff. I love this DJ called Kaytranda from Montréal, and if I'm just chilling out I really like Todd Terje.

If you won airfare to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

The answer to this one is obvious - the world air guitar championships in Oulu, Finland! Let's do a 6-part Sonic radio morning show and get Garner Andrews to go too!

You can invite anyone - alive or dead, real or fictional - to dinner. Who would it be?

Is it too soon to say Anthony Bourdain? Or Walt Whitman. I would love to have a picnic outside with Walt Whitman. And could you imagine inviting Beyoncé & Jay-z to a couples dinner - that would be incredible! Or Alex Trebek, and he would have to speak in questions.

If you could switch jobs with someone else on campus for a week, what would you do?

Zamboni driver at Clare Drake arena. If you're the zamboni driver, then that ice is yours, you care for it, you protect it. There is nothing else on campus that could be 100 per cent territorially yours. But the ice in Clare Drake is absolutely the zamboni driver's.

Since you have come from another post-secondary, do you see a difference​ or similarities​ in the Indigenous ​campus ​communities in the overall environment, in programs, or services that are provided​?​

Yes! I've spent time immersed in the intellectual communities of five different U15 schools; and in my experience the overarching similarity is there are many hands pulling on the rope. Meaning that, regardless of the campus, there are more and more Indigenous people coming to campus who are all looking to make positive change and pulling on the rope - which is incredibly inspiring.

What sets the U of A appart is that the prevailing Cree ethic and cosmology, and the vast regional differences across all of the schools that I've worked with are the coolest things. And we also face massive differences in the socio-economic positions of students.

What does "uplifting the whole people" mean to you?

It sounds and feels like carrying the burden of the nation. What I mean by that is the amount of sacrifice and work it takes to be accountable to the folks you're trying to uplift. It's ambitious and so big and abstract that it almost seems impossible.

I would break it down and work with and for the people - my family and my Nation, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, other fellow Canadians, and then think about how it would look globally.

What are you doing to personalize your experience here?

It's a totally different feeling this time around. As an undergrad I was transplanting myself into a completely new space.

As an adult I am immersing myself, so my experience as a professional interacting with the space healthier and more active. Taking care of the emotional and physical spheres will grant me more health and enable me to better contribute to others.

If you could solve any problem in the world, what would it be?

A major one would be the systemic gaps for first nations health and education and clean water. And reversing the trend of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. The number one way to make any difference in the health of any population is through education. My work is to inspire people to higher levels of literacy; and my hope is that I am contributing to reversing the trends on violence against indigenous women.

It's why I do what I do.

What 3 words best describe your U of A experience?

Multi-national, transformative, and pretty - I can't get enough of the river valley.

And finally, when's the last time you jigged?

Jigged!!?? I take every opportunity I can! Last time was when I won a door prize at a conference about three months ago. I said, "If I win this prize, I'm going to jig all the way to the stage!" And so I did!

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Trevor J. Phillips is Métis from Jasper Place, he's completing his PhD in English Literature at Queen's University,
and is currently the associate producer of Voice: A Reconciliation Podcast with UMFM Radio Inc. in Winnipeg. He's also the Office of the Registrar's Manager Indigenous Recruitment.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.