Allison Elizabeth Nyce

March 25, 1971 – October 31, 2022
In loving memory ~
Allison Elizabeth Nyce passed away October 31, 2022 in North Vancouver after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was born on March 25, 1971 in her ancient homelands at Terrace, BC. She is mourned and will be greatly missed by her children Suzzanne and Maurice Nyce, her parents Dr. Deanna Nyce and Sim’oogit Hleek, Harry Nyce Sr., her brother Harry Jr. (Lori), her sister Angeline (Allen), nieces Starnita and Kaitlyn and nephews Ethan and Wilson. Allison also leaves hundreds of Tsimshian, Nisga’a, Irish, Norwegian and non-Indigenous family members, and a wide circle of colleagues and friends.
Allison died from Metastatic Breast Cancer, HER 2 re, estrogen receptor which she fought valiantly against since the Fall of 2021. She showed remarkable resilience over the course of numerous treatments and tests and the onset of pain and other very uncomfortable symptoms. Her doctors each described her as very dignified, graceful and stoic. We would like to acknowledge the excellent care given by Drs. Chia, Nichols, Soretsky and Mahjeed and the BC Cancer Agency, and Dr. Wen and the palliative care team at Lions Gate hospital. We would also like to mention the days and hours served by her sister Angeline and Allison’s son Maurice with her parents Deanna and Harry Sr., and her daughter Suzzanne.
Allison’s formal education began in the Nass Valley, but also included University Hill Elementary and University Hill Secondary schools at UBC where she received her Grade 12 diploma with Honours in English and History. She went on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 1995 specializing in Museum Studies and BC First Nations. She also completed a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Northern BC in 2010. At the time of her passing, she was enrolled and working on the research stage of her PhD dissertation in History at Simon Fraser University.
Allison’s professional career was filled with many accomplishments.
She was a fluent Nisga’a speaker and Nisga’a language instructor for Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute (WWNI) and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). She taught 80 courses in Anthropology, History, and First Nations Studies over the course of her career. She was a favorite Professor for her students which was reflected on their course evaluations – each filled with accolades for her teaching style and the extra efforts she made to help students realize their success. Her loss leaves a huge hole in the field of Indigenous Post Secondary Education. As a female Indigenous Academic she was also a mentor and role model for Indigenous women pursuing their careers and studies.
She recently drafted proposals for the launch of the WWNI-UNBC Nisga’a Language Fluency Degree, Diploma, and Certificate programs. These programs are already serving as models for Indigenous language programs at other Canadian universities. She was an incredible researcher and served as Research Development Officer, curriculum developer and fundraiser for WWNI. Her templates will continue to accomplish successful academic careers for WWNI-UNBC students.
In her high school years, she was greatly impressed by the work of Dr. Gloria Cranmer Webster of Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, BC. Allison said many times that Gloria inspired her to go into Museum Studies. Her experience and connection with her peers in the Museum discipline stretched across International borders. Allison’s museum work included the UBC Museum of Anthropology as a student worker, the Royal BC Museum, the Canadian Museum of History, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve in Marysville, Washington and others around the world.
Her numerous museum displays and projects include construction of an African Village for a museum in Denmark that impressed the Danish so much they asked Allison to write a book which she did. It is published only in Danish. Another project was a museum for two Indigenous Nations on Vancouver Island. Each of these projects are focussed on the respective Nation’s languages.
She also served as the Manager of Ayuukhl Nisga’a Department at Nisga’a Lisims Government where her duties included the preservation of Nisga’a Laws and Culture, facilitating and participating in Elders meetings. Her research also delivered the design and construction of the Gitwinksihlkw Elementary School for School District 92 – Nisga’a in 1994. This project focussed on ancient Nisga’a longhouse designs and building artwork.
Her Curriculum Vitae also lists numerous speaking engagements and guest lectures across Canada. Her topics included Indigenous language, Northwest Coast Indigenous culture, Indigenous Women’s Studies, student success in university, museum tours instruction for the Native Youth Program, and many others.
Allison was also a talented artist performing music and dance as well as creating Tsimshian and Nisga’a regalia. She participated with the Gitlakt’aamiks Ceremonial Dancers at the opening of the Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School led by her Great-Grandfather, Sim’oogit Wii Gadim Xsgaak, Chief Eli Gosnell. They also participated in the opening of the Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec in 1991, at the opening of her Nisga’a exhibits in 1997, and at the opening of the Nishga Girl Salon in 2017. The Nishga Girl Salon displays her parents’ wooden gillnet fishing boat, the Nishga Girl, donated in 1998.
She also participated with the Gitwinksihlkw Four Crest Dancers at the opening of the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria and the Nisga’a Treaty celebrations in Victoria and the Nass Valley.
She also represented Canada in the mid-1990s at the Tulip Festival in Bursa, Turkey.
Her extensive list of talents began with reading. She amassed an incredible library across a wide range of topics. Her artwork was extensive from designs in beading, sewing, crochet, knitting, traditional weaving and paint and drawing. One special project was an Eagle blanket from her Grandmother Emma Nyce.
Allison’s other passions included Karate, where she obtained a black belt, cooking pasta, traveling, especially to Maui and a trip to Italy with Angeline, and exchanging stories with Angeline. She also loved commercial gillnet fishing with her Dad on the Nishga Girl and wheel-barrowing groceries across the Gitwinksihlkw suspension bridge with Angeline.
She was extremely strong in her Anglican faith and was an active congregant of St. Agnes parish in North Vancouver. This commitment was carried over from her childhood and the guidance provided by her parents, grandparents and Great-grandparents, and Great-Great-Grandparents.
The theme that went through everything in her life was love. Her love of her children, as a devoted and exemplary mother, her family, holding each of them in high regard, her studies and Suzzanne’s and Maurice’s academic successes and artwork. Our Elders say, “If it is in your heart, and if you love it, then you will succeed”. Allison embraced this philosophy and passed it on to Suzzanne and Maurice.
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