Laurier hosts annual Indigenous Research Event

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Photo Luke Sarazin

 

Wilfrid Laurier University hosted the Indigenous Research Symposium on Dec. 5. The event featured Indigenous graduate students and special guests speaking about their Indigenous research.

The keynote speaker was Laurier alumni Allan Downey, who graduated in 2014 with a PhD in history. Downey is an assistant professor at McGill University, and he spoke about his current research on Indigenous identity and nationhood.

“His research into the game of lacrosse, which is a study that he did where we show how games served a way for the Haudenosaunee peoples and other Indigenous people across the country to assert self-determination and served a kind of a basis for developing identities as Indigenous distinct people,” Jean Becker, senior advisor of Aboriginal Initiatives at Laurier.

Additional speakers included graduate students and PhD candidates from the Indigenous community and the history department  Trevor Stace, Cody Groat and Elizabeth Best  as well as Tim Leduc, assistant professor of social work.

“Elizabeth Best, who just completed a master’s degree in our history department, she’s going to use her art installation as a way of talking about her graduate research and it’s one of the ways Indigenous people do things quite differently,” Becker said.

“Stance is a PhD candidate [and] has been a coordinator for the Indigenous Labour history [project]. Groat: his research is focusing on historic sites and monuments in Canada he is also the author of a book called Canadian Stories which was published in 2016,” Becker said.

“Dr. Tim Leduc … is an assistant professor on [the] Laurier Brantford [campus] in the faculty of Indigenous social work and he will be talking about some of his research in ecological studies that he has done,” Becker concluded.

Laurier students can take away from the Indigenous research symposium that research can be conducted in other ways besides the main stream academic way of conducting research. Hodson emphasizes that you can benefit the community when conducting your research.

Indigenous methodology varies quite differently from the mainstream academic way of conducting research, explained Erin Hodson, the Indigenous curriculum specialist at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“First thing that we do when engaging in Indigenous research is that we take time to interview the people that we are researching and that we get to know them and they get to know us. Building relationships is fundamental in engaging in Indigenous research,” Hodson said.

“Indigenous research must be reciprocal. It must have a focus that it is going to benefit the community in some way. As people in the academy doing research we must leave the community better than when we found it when we are doing research.

Hodson stressed that having a holistic understanding of your participants is needed in order to produce Indigenous research, and that the research should incorporate culturally sensitive and appropriate resources.

“What we talk about all the time is that we use Holistic methods not just in research but also in teaching. We believe that learning incorporates the whole person so we’re not just our minds; we are emotional beings, were physical beings and we are spiritual beings,” Becker said.

“In the research I have previously done – when engaging with Indigenous participants – we make sure we are culturally sensitive to their needs and we have an understanding of what their specific culture requires from them if they are triggered in anyway,” Hodson said.

Laurier students can take away from the Indigenous research symposium that research can be conducted in other ways besides the main stream academic way of conducting research. Hodson emphasizes that you can benefit the community when conducting your research.

“For mainstream students and for mainstream faculty to come and watch and be a part of it and take away with them ways to look at research that will be beneficial … in the long run,” Hodson said.

“When you are going into this research [it is important] that you are not only beneficial to you and your research team, but it also is [about] giving something back to the community that you are engaging with.”

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