Jo-Ann Episkenew, an educator and leading community figure in Regina, has died at 63.

Episkenew was director of the Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre at the University of Regina. She was also honoured with the YWCA's Women of Distinction lifetime achievement award.

Episkenew was also an author and a trailblazer in many fields.

Cassandra Wajuntah, a colleague who also studied under Episkenew, spoke about her dedication.

"The motto of the University of Regina is 'One who serves' and that is definitely Jo-Ann," Wajuntah said.

"In fact, all of us are at work today in her research centre. Nobody expected it, but it's because she really taught us to be a team and she elevates everybody around her."

There was no immediate word on the cause of death. Funeral arrangements are pending.