Celebrating Women at UBC: Alexandra Zuur

Alex and Involvement

Alex is a third-year student in the UBC School of Social Work and is doing her practicum as a Community Services Worker at the John Howard Society. This involves her communicating and working closely with prisoners and assisting them in their transition back to normal life after their release. In her spare time she plays netball, goes running, works part time for Vancouver Coastal Health, and is involved with the First Nations Studies Students Association.

Alex and Passions

Alex is passionate about justice and the way justice can be facilitated and supported through systems and structures. Her work with prisoners in Vancouver has helped her to understand more about the injustices present in the criminal justice system and the idea of restorative justice. She says that the prisoners she met are among the most polite and kind men she has ever encountered. And although some have made mistakes, there is a clear correlation between the faulty justice system and the demographics of the inmates – many are First Nations people affected by the Residential School system.

She is also passionate about fighting discrimination against Indigenous people both in Canada and her home country of New Zealand. She did a lot of working around the ‘Sauder frosh week chants’ and found that discrimination and oppression of Indigenous people and women are so embedded into our society (as a result of colonisation and its ongoing effects) that it’s almost impossible to begin fixing the situation and educating people on the issues at play. Alex is also passionate about education – particularly educating young people about sexual health, relationships, gender identity, and sexuality.

Alex and International Women’s Day

Alex says she is celebrating her mother and all the other women in her life who have played motherly roles both as she was growing up and as an adult. She also acknowledges the non-traditional motherhood roles that we all have towards each other.

Alex believes that one of the most positive changes that has occurred for women is the ability to choose. Being able to have freedom to choose your education and career is something Alex really appreciates, especially after spending a lot of time with her grandmother, who wishes that she could have had the same experiences that Alex is able to have now.

Alex and Changes

Alex wants to see changes in the way we treat and portray indigenous women in the media. She says we should acknowledge the discrimination that we, as a society and as individuals, impose on First Nations women and the ways that colonialism is still present in contemporary society.

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