Trent University Ph.D. Student Awarded Harshman Fellowship


Research reclaims Indigenous women’s economies in the sugar bush

Monday, July 11, 2011, Peterborough

Trent University Ph.D. candidate Christine Sy has been awarded a $5,000 Harshman Fellowship for her research examining Anishinaabe women and the sugar bush economy in the Great Lakes region during the 18th and 19th centuries.

“The Anishinaabe women’s economic process is unique,” explained Ms. Sy. “Our relationship with the land is not based on capitalism – it is holistic – it includes spirit, family, and extended relations. Through colonization we have been alienated from our economies and the relationships that inform those economies. It is important to reclaim those.”

The experiential knowledge that Ms. Sy has gained through sugar bush harvesting at nearby Curve Lake First Nation, with the support of the Indigenous Knowledge component of the Ph.D. program, has been invaluable. Ms. Sy has been able to work with other students, families and community members in the harvest and gain theoretical insights that will benefit her analysis of the colonial records on Anishinaabe women’s sugar bush harvest.

Currently finishing her second year coursework, Ms. Sy is also preparing for her comprehensive exams. Her plan is to utilize the fellowship for archival research at the Newberry Library in Chicago starting in January and in building relationships with Elders and knowledge holders who may share oral histories, aadisokaanan (sacred stories) and/or songs about this economy.

Originally from Bawating (Sault Ste. Marie), Ms. Sy attributes her success at Trent University to having access to Elders and Indigenous knowledge holders in the Indigenous Studies department, particularly Odawa Anishinaabe Elder and Professor Emeritus Shirley Williams and Michi Saagiik Anishinaabe Elder Doug Williams. She is also grateful for the support of the Dean’s Ph.D. Scholarship and the Graduate Research Fellowship provided to her at the University.

The Harshman Fellowships Society is a national charitable organization that invests in the ideals of leadership and responsible citizenship. The purpose of the Society is to ‘provide financial support to deserving students who demonstrate academic potential, and have made significant contributions to community activities. The Society also recognizes the need to nurture the potential of Canada’s Indigenous people.


For more information, or to arrange an interview with Christine Sy, please contact: An Kosurko, communications officer, Trent University 705-748-1011 x6182