A DAY IN THE LIFE OF PAT BURNS could be spent in almost any department on campus. As a member of Secretarial Services providing temporary secretarial assistance, she has had seven assignments in eight months. Most of her jobs have involved ﬁling and reception work, although she has backgrounds in marketing, researching, written/oral communications and special events chairing.
“It’s so varied; it helps to be adaptable. I often get time-consuming jobs that no one else has time for,” she says. “You have to be able to multi-task, especially in small departments. It is mostly learn as you go.”
She ﬁnds that people really appreciate that she is there to help. No matter how busy, they are pleasant to work with and don’t mind answering her questions. “I am certainly getting a broad understanding of how this university runs,” says Burns, whose aim is to get a full-time job at UVic.
Burns is an Ojibway from Ontario. She was not raised in the culture, but is learning more now. She moved from Toronto to Alberta, where she worked as a respiratory therapist. “Those were the days where you could ﬁnd a job wherever you ended up.” She has been in Victoria for 25 years and has two grown sons also living in Victoria.
Before UVic, Burns was an English as a second language teacher for seven years before the big ESL schools came into town. “I really wanted to teach immigrant professionals, but there was no funding. Without good language skills, these professionals are driving taxis, working as janitors or in restaurants.”
In 2001 Burns was Elections BC’s first Aboriginal Liaison Officer.
She serves as the Aboriginal representative for the UVic Alumni Association Board of Directors, sits on the communications and active alumni committees and attends as many Aboriginal events at UVic as she can. She is looking forward to the grad ceremony for Indigenous students. “I am hoping as many as possible will wear traditional regalia,” she says. She also intends to get involved in the First People’s House.
She appreciates the university’s policies on diversity and equity and its supportiveness to Aboriginals.
“I like being privy to cutting-edge technology and knowledge,” she says. “And I love the beautiful campus and the bunnies.”