Ken Coates is Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan campus. Ken was raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, and has long-standing professional and personal interests in Aboriginal rights; northern development; northern Canadian history; science, technology and society; and Japanese studies.
He received his BA (History) from the University of British Columbia (UBC), his MA (History) from the University of Manitoba, and his PhD (History) from UBC. Ken has had the distinct pleasure of working at universities across Canada and internationally, starting at Brandon University and continuing at the University of Victoria, and the University of Northern British Columbia (where he was the Founding Vice-President Academic). He spent two years at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, an institution known globally for its work on Indigenous education. Ken returned to Canada in 1997 to take a position as Dean of Arts at the University of New Brunswick at Saint John. He then became Dean of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan, later serving as Dean of Arts at the University of Waterloo. He returned to Saskatchewan in 2012.
Ken has written extensively on Aboriginal history, Indigenous-newcomer relations and post-secondary education. His first major work, Best Left as Indians, examined the history of the Yukon through the lens of Aboriginal-European contact. His subsequent work includes The Marshall Decision and Aboriginal Rights in the Maritimes, Land of the Midnight Sun: A History of the Yukon and shortly, a co-authored book called Treaty Peoples: Aboriginal People and the Future of Canada. He has published more than a dozen books with his regular co-author, Dr. W.R. Morrison, and has worked with Carin Holroyd on a series of projects related to science and technology in East Asia.
Ken has worked with Aboriginal peoples and organizations and with government agencies responsible for Indigenous affairs across Canada and in New Zealand and Australia. He assisted with Aboriginally-themed documentaries produced by Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon, assisted with land claims research, and participated in a variety of national and international collaborations, including serving on the Research Advisory Committee of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. He is the Director of Policy North, which provides regionally-relevant research focused on northern Saskatchewan and delivers a community-based master’s program on Northern Governance and Development. He is the Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s research project on Aboriginal Peoples and the Natural Resource economy.
Ken appears regularly on television and radio, largely in association with his work on Aboriginal issues, northern Canada, and post-secondary education. His opinion pieces have been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada.