Woman Warriors Newsletter

Decolonizing Research Part 6

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Decolonizing Virtual Space

My guest for this virtual coffee chat, Anita Lafferty and I met online at a Community-Based Research Canada webinar. It was a wonderful surprise to connect with a Northerner (historical land base and kinship located in the Northwest Territories) on this webinar that hosted participants from across Canada. (For the new comers reading this newsletter, I am Métis and a member of the North Slave Métis Alliance, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories). Anita and I arranged a zoom meeting the following week to share stories about the North, and we decided we were somehow related due to our immediate connection. Isn’t everyone related in the North?! Wink to the Northerners reading this newsletter. 

In last week’s newsletter, Blackfoot scholar Dr. Gabrielle Lindstrom stated that knowing where we come from, especially the traditional lands of our ancestors is medicine. She shared that a fundamental aspect of decolonizing is knowing where your knowledge belongs (Wilson, 2008). Indigenous scholars’ knowledge must be grounded in our communities and with our knowlege keepers and Elders. Wilson (2008) stated, “Indigenous researchers ground their research knowingly in the lives of real persons as individuals and social beings, not on the world of ideas. Any theories developed or proposed are based upon and supported by Indigenous forms of epistemology. We as Indigenous scholars who wish to participate in the creation of knowledge within our own ways of being must begin with an active and scholarly recognition of who our philosophers and prophets are in our own communities. These are still the keepers and the teachers of our epistemologies” (p. 60). 

This week, Anita honoured her Dene K’ee (ways of knowing) by showing us photos of Dene Nation territory and kinship relations where her knowledge belongs. She talked about her kinship relations traveling the routes of the Trails of Our Ancestors map and her connection to it. “And so when I see this image, it reminds me also of the strength that my ancestors endured and all of the places that they traveled and as I research into myself and my own identity and my kinship relations, I’m finding that I’m from my ancestors came from many different landscapes in the North, not just Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation. And so I’m honored and feel privileged to know this information. I really encourage others to find those ancestral trails because that’s a part of who we are and our identity. It’s helped me in my own journey and my own path, as I understand who I am as a Dene Cree woman on this journey.” Anita is reinforcing Dr. Lindstrom’s teachings that knowing where we come from – the source of our knowlege/epistemologies – is an essential part of decolonizing our spirits and healing.

Next week’s virtual coffee chat features Cree, Dene, and Irish engineer, Deanna Burgart. She is passionate about creating culturally safe spaces to invite Indigenous perspectives into engineering and the energy sector. After 20 years in the oil and gas industry, she joined the University of Calgary as a Senior Instructor at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering and is the first Teaching Chair focused on weaving Indigenous Knowledge with Engineering. Deanna is passionate about working with Indigenous peoples and allies to create ethical space for Indigenous peoples in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). She is the president of IndigeSTEAM which is a non-profit focused on Indigenous participation and success in STEAM from K-12, through post-secondary and into professional spaces. 

S01E06 Decolonizing Research: Anita Lafferty on Indigenous Curriculum Grounded in on-the-land Knowledge. I have included the timestamps descriptions below, but you need to click on the video to be directed to Youtube and access this feature. Please help my Youtube channel reach a wider audience by subscribing to the Women Warriors channel, giving our video a thumbs up and leaving a comment below each video.

Anita Lafferty on Indigenous Curriculum Grounded in on-the-land Knowledge

Anita Lafferty is a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta in the Faculty of Secondary Education. She is of Dene and Cree descent and a member of the Lı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation in Northwest Territories. Her doctoral research examines approaches of Indigenous curriculum perspectives that are grounded in Dene K’ee (ways of knowing) on the land. Before undertaking her doctoral studies, Anita was a high school teacher implementing successful practices for Indigenous youth. Her research interests include learning on the land, experiences of Indigenous youth, identity, healing, and matriarch knowledge.
 
TIME STAMPS
0:00 Introduction 
0:13 Land acknowledgement for Treaty No. 7 territory.
0:31 Self-introduction and where Anita and I connected online.
1:35 Anita shared her land-based photos: map of “Trails of our Ancestors.” 
4:22 Anita shared photos of her kin, Elizabeth Lafferty and her late Grandfather.
6:10 Anita shared her land-based learning experience with Dr. Dwayne Donald and Elder Bob Cardinal from Enoch First Nation, Treaty 6 Territory.
6:56 Dene ways of knowing on the land and the methodology of narrative inquiry.
11:02 On-the-land learning connected to seasons, the land, starting in ceremony, and guided by an Elder. 
13:26 Anita explained the Dene Zhatie 13 Moon Calendar and decolonizing the calendar season.
16:12 Anita shared her lived experiences re-vitalizing cultural and matriarchal knowledge. 
18:04 Attachment theory related to the land. 
20:23 Anita shared how she is healing her relationship with the land and forming a secure attachment to the land. 
22:21 Anita shared her educational journey: she was the first post-secondary graduate in her family; shifting her career from nursing to education; the early days of on-the-land learning for high school students.
28:10 Re-visioning the current education system from hierarchical knowledge to honour our ancestral knowledge.
29:40 Anita shared her current PhD research of Dene K’ee (ways of knowing) on the land and developing Indigenous curriculum.
31:53 Shelley shared why it is an exciting time in Northern research.
32:54 Anita shared on the importance of listening and being guided through prayer and/or conversations with peers/mentors/knowledge keepers/Elders.
This video shares insights on Dene Zhatie (South Slavey) language, and Dene K’ee (ways of knowing)underpinning community-based research. The key decolonizing methodology discussed is narrative inquiry and decolonizing curriculum grounded in Dene K’ee (ways of knowing) on-the-land. Indigenous scholar, Anita Lafferty shared how she is healing her relationship with the land – forming a secure attachment to the land – and decolonizing the education system through land-based knowledge. 
 
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LINKS AND RESOURCES
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Learn the Dene Zhatie Language and Dene Calendar Website: gudeh.com http://gudeh.com/#calendar/index-fall.
The companion app is available on Apple & Android. Search “Gudeh: We are Speaking Dene Zhatie.”

Hotıì ts’eeda (Northwest Territories SPOR research support unit) featured "Decolonizing Research" in their newsletter last week and I am grateful they promoted this project. In 2019-2020 I was awarded the Researcher Capacity Development award for my research project, Digital Storytelling as an Indigenous Women’s Health Advocacy Tool: Empowering Indigenous Women to Frame Their Health Stories. In the spirit of full transparency, I am not funded by any academic institution or organization to host the "Decolonizing Research" series. I am not employed by any academic institution, nor did I obtain research ethics for this project. My guests do not receive honorarium or any form of payment - they volunteer to share their knowledge. I obtain guest consent throughout the interview and video release process. These videos are free educational content.