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Indigenous Studies Ph.D.

Ph.D. students
Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies Ph.D.

Students & Research

It is an exciting time to pursue Indigenous scholarship. Our Ph.D. candidates are part of an international movement to decolonize the academy and to recognize the centrality of Indigenous/Traditional knowledges as a foundation for contemporary Indigenous scholarship. Our students have extraordinary opportunities to work with Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee Elders and Traditional people who are actively involved in our program as professors and teachers.


Barbara L Wall, P.E.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Shawnee, Oklahoma

B.Sc., Michigan Technological University, M.S. University of California, Berkeley

My dissertation research, It Flows from the Heart: Bodwewaadmii Anishinaabekwewag Nibi Waawiindmowin,gathers and shares diverse narratives of the uncovering and reweaving of Bodwewaadmii water knowledges and ceremonial practice within our relocated communities.

Using a decolonizing methodology, grounded in Anishinaabe intellectual tradition and language, this work resists centuries of assimilation, acculturation, and marginalization and our prior conversion to christianity. Narratives of resurgence privilege the voices of Elders, women, youth and 2SQ folk. 



Maurice Brubacher

Research Project Title: “Exploring the Dynamic Interplay Between Ojibwe Language and Traditional Knowledge”

Summary: Elders tell us that traditional knowledges are embedded in their languages, and that their deep meanings cannot be translated into English. Yet such profound beauty and wisdom continue to be lost through colonial language infringement.

My research is focused on listening to Anishinaabeg Elders’ stories and reflections about their first language. It is a search to celebrate the power of traditional knowledge contained within Anishinaabemowin, in hopes of making a small contribution to Anishinaabemowin revitalization. 


Brandy Kane

My spirit name is Thunder Eagle Woman and my colonial name is Brandy Kane. I am a member of the Xaxl’ip First Nation from St’at’imc territory. I chose to do my PhD in Indigenous Studies because of my strong desire to make a difference in Indigenous communities. As a St’at’imc woman I am well aware of the challenges faced by Indigenous people in today’s society, included are loss culture and traditional ways of life.

My research proposal focuses on working with ceremonialists, medicine people, and those that have been helped and/or been healed through Indigenous ceremonial practices. My research question is: How has participating in traditional Indigenous ceremonies brought healing and wellness to you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually? 


Binesi Morrisseau, B.A., M.A

My name is Binesi Morrisseau. I am Sturgeon Clan from Couchiching First Nation, located within the sovereign territory of Treaty Three. My SSHRC sponsored research seeks to explicate the ways in which we can understand ‘treaty epistemologies’ from within Anishinaabek genders and sexualities.

What does it mean to be treaty people?

Using a Foucauldian discourse analysis, legal theory, Anishinaabemoowin, and the oral tradition, I problematize modern treaty discourse by re-imagining treaty from within the fluidity of Anishinaabek genders and sexualities. 



Angela Semple

Ktunaxa nation

ʔasqanaki: two tell two versions of the same story
A Poetic Dissertation on Indigenous Adoption Narratives

My research work seeks to creatively re-story my families and our experiences, as I am third, possibly fourth generation adoptee. This means that for multiple generations we have grown up outside the care of our biological family, due to government assimilation policies embedded in the child welfare system. I weave my story alongside analysis of other Indigenous-authored narratives of adoption in order to examine and theorize concepts of belonging, nationhood, and resurgence. 


waaseyaa’sin christine sy

Following the Trees Home: Anishinaabeg Womxn at the Sugar Bush

Anishinaabeg women are heterogeneous, have diverse histories, and negotiate diverse indigenous-settler colonial worlds. Despite the differences between us, we share being dominated by settler colonial economies and having our relationships with the natural world disrupted. As a result, Anishinaabeg womxn have become alienated from the means of sustenance, the knowledges that inscribe and are generated from these land-based relationships, and the governance these relationalities with the natural world produce. Utilizing a critical pibiskaabiiyang/yin historical methodology and Anishinaabe historical material feminist theoretical analyses, my research examines archival, living, and cultural sources to illuminate and elucidate Anishinaabeg womxn’s relationship with the sugar bush in the production of maple sugar. Yielding historicized interpretations of the interconnection between gender and knowledges systems which are simultaneously grounded in relationships with the natural world and settler colonial economies, my research renders “worlds” (Maria Lugones) that Anishinaabeg womxn negotiate as we engage in maajiimaadiziwin—keeping the life-line moving through the generations.

Supplemental: “iskigamizigan: the sugar bush” (audio poem, prod. 2011): http://www.yorku.ca/intent/issue6/poems/waaseyaasinchristinesy.php

For popular writing, see Christine’s blog, “anishinaabewiziwin” at: https://giizismoon.wordpress.com/


 Nancy Stevens

My name is Nancy Stevens/Mno Waasemok Mizhakwad-kwe and I am from Bear Clan.  I am of Haudenosaunee and European descent, a mother of four and grandmother of two, and a part-time Ph. D. student in the School of Indigenous Studies.  My research focus is on how people understand their experience of using cultural ceremonies and practices to heal from trauma.

 Evelyn Poitras

Cree and Saulteaux

​M.A. in Indigenous Governance with Distinction, 2015, University of Winnipeg

​Thesis: Treaty Four Sovereignty and Governance: Emawasakonaman Isicikewina (Gathering the ways of the People) for Peepeekisis Cree Nation and the File Hills Indian Farm Colony

My name is Evelyn Poitras/Askitako Piasew Iskwew and I started my PhD studies at Trent in 2015 with research interests in Nitanis (Daughter) Narratives and Nehiyawak Iskwewak (Cree Women) roles for Governance and Treaty Enforcement, Treaty Four and Treaty Six.

 Gillian Austin

Gillian is of Scottish and Irish ancestry, was born in Toronto and is a singer-songwriter.

M.E.S. York University, B.A. English Literature, McGill University

For my dissertation research, Centering Indigenous Autonomy of Indigenous Knowledge Systems at Canadian Universities, I am collaborating with Indigenous Knowledge Holders engaged at Trent and universities in Atlantic Canada to guide a co-learning process that explores what practices center Indigenous Knowledge holders’ autonomy of their knowledge systems, and considers how to operationalize and enact these practices. My approach is based on maintaining relational accountability and involves learning how to enact settlers’ Treaty responsibilities and align with Indigenous goals for Indigenous resurgence of governance and education.