Dr. Lisa Broda (BA’96, MA’03, PhD’17), who earned three degrees at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), is in her first year of serving as the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth. (Photo: Submitted)

Lisa Broda: Putting the interests of children first

When Dr. Lisa Broda (BA’96, MA’03, PhD’17) was a teenager, she could often be found volunteering at Saskatoon’s St. Paul’s Hospital maternity and pediatrics ward holding newborns or playing with toddlers.

So, it’s not surprising that she is now working on behalf of children as the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth. It’s just on a much larger scale these days.

Broda still cares for children as she did at St. Paul’s. But now, she cares for each and every single child in Saskatchewan as part of her role as advocate, a position she has held since November, 2019.

“For me, I’ve always worked with children in some way over the course of my career,” said Broda. “I probably didn’t realize at that time why I felt compelled to volunteer, and certainly wouldn’t have known at the time that this is the chair I’d be sitting in.”

The Advocate for Children and Youth is an independent officer of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.

Broda’s office not only holds the government and entities that serve children to account, but also collaborates to support better outcomes for children through her office’s advocacy, investigation, research, and public education arms.

Broda always carried an innate sense of responsibility for children, something that is the essence of her role as the advocate. This comes from her values and philosophy, both personally and professionally, to ensuring that young people have voice in matters that affect them and that their rights are upheld.

Even during her time as an undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Broda was an active volunteer with youth organizations such as the YMCA and the John Howard Society. Her current role is not just a vocation for Broda, per se, but a pursuit of something she always strived to do in both her academic and government career.

“Working with children and youth has always been a passion for me. These young people are our current and future leaders, and are amazing in their own right. To be appointed the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth is such an honour. It’s a privilege to work on behalf of, and in support of, Saskatchewan children. It is also critical that our office can be a voice for all young people and to advocate for their rights, interests, and well-being.”

Broda, who has five children of her own, first started her academic career with a focus on social and criminal justice, where she spent the bulk of her career prior to being appointed as the advocate. Her career path came into focus once she started her graduate level work, all of which happened alongside of Broda building her career in government and community.

Amongst the many mentors who were integral in supporting her over the years, there were two particular faculty members who Broda said “influenced her and provided support in both her research and her doctorate work in later years.”

Dr. Carolyn Brooks (BA’88, MA’93, PhD’09), current department head in sociology at USask, was one of the first to make an impression on Broda.

“Dr. Brooks is someone I saw as an inspiration to me due to her creative teaching methods, her passion for the students, and her work overall.”

Another mentor who profoundly changed the way Broda embraced her career and her academic path was Professor Patricia Monture-Angus (1958-2010). Monture-Angus who was an Indigenous scholar at USask, influenced Broda into working toward a doctorate in the discipline.

“I had some ideas about the research I wanted to engage in and I had been talking with Dr. Monture-Angus about how to better understand restorative justice and reconciliation, which at the time was not well understood or fully embraced,” she said. 

“Dr. Monture-Angus was very inspirational because she was so passionate about working hard for Indigenous people’s rights, and to change the narrative of how society viewed her people. I received some very important guidance on doing culturally appropriate and sensitive research when engaging with Indigenous peoples.

“Dr. Monture-Angus said to me, ‘You need to do this, and here’s why. You’re a practising academic which means you can create important change in the community, and there aren’t many of those out there.’ ”

Broda, who remains a sessional lecturer at USask, believes Monture-Angus probably recognized a strength in her and perhaps knew where Broda may end up one day.

When the day arrives for Broda to retire, it’s quite likely you’ll still see her volunteering and coming full circle back to her days of volunteering in the pediatrics department.

“I will still want to go to the (hospital) and hold and comfort those babies. That’s one thing I will continue to do when I get to that point.”

Until then, Broda still has some work to do. For our children.

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