National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

To mark the national day, U of G highlights faculty working on research related to issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada. All are available for interviews:

Jennifer Silver – Fisheries management

Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 52176 

Silver studies the importance of fishing in coastal Indigenous communities and looks at how industrial fishing and aquaculture impact Indigenous peoples’ access to marine resources. 

Specifically, she is examining how the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages commercial fisheries off British Columbia’s coast and is working with coastal First Nations in B.C. to incorporate Indigenous values, knowledge and objectives into fisheries management. 

Silver is also exploring how digital technology affects news about environmental change. She investigates how traditional news media, digital journalism and universities produce and circulate information about major environmental issues. 

She is also involved with The Clam Garden Network, a group that brings together First Nations and researchers to understand, promote and reconstruct traditional intertidal rock walls that protect and improve shellfish harvest beaches. 

Brittany Luby  
Department of History
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 53210 

Luby is of mixed Anishinaabe descent with roots in the Ochiichagwe’Babigo’Ining Ojibway Nation and researches Indigenous waterways, women’s issues and literature as a tool for reconciliation. 

One of her projects has seen her exploring resilience on Anishinaabe reserves after a northern Ontario hydroelectric energy production facility caused mass flooding and devastated fishing, hunting and trapping revenue in communities along the Winnipeg River. Through her research, she is highlighting Anishinaabe creativity and resilience by showing how her ancestors and contemporaries survive environmental inequality. 

Luby also engages in many forms of artistic expression and recently wrote a children’s book to be published by Little Brown entitled Encounter, which imagines the first meeting between an Indigenous fisher and a European sailor. 

Sheri Longboat
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 52138 

Longboat, a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River, researchesthe interface between Indigenous and Western knowledge systems, policy and governance to support water security, food sovereignty and sustainability in First Nations communities.This includes First Nations community-engaged research to develop tools for safe drinking water on First Nations, support for First Nations fisheries in the Great Lakes region and examination of corporatecommunity relationships in the context of resource development. 

Of critical concern toLongboatis the fact that despite Canada’s vast freshwater supplies, one in six First Nations communities do not have access to safe drinking water, a situation that has persisted, for some, for decades.  

Longboatsays we need to address the chronic problems around lack of regulations and insufficient financial resources for infrastructure and human resources to ensure water systems are equitable with the rest of Canada.  However, she asserts higher-level action is needed for First Nations water security—to deconstruct the colonial systems that constrain First Nations communities, implement the recognition of Indigenous rights and governance within Canadian law and practice, and forge new collaborative governance models between First Nations and governments in Canada.

Hannah Tait Neufeld – Food sovereignty
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 53796

Neufeld is involved in Indigenous land-based learning, working with First Nations and community partners to engage students and the wider urban Indigenous community in hands-on work in Indigenous food and medicine gardens. 

In collaboration with Indigenous faculty, she has been working to expand gardens in the wider Grand River Territory and at the University of Guelph on the ancestral lands of the Attawandaron people and the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. The gardens are known collectively as Wisahkotewinowak, which means “green shoots that grow after a fire.” 

The aim is to strengthen local food sovereignty, promote conversations to forge and rekindle relationships focused on traditional foodways and to share knowledge to contribute to a healthier environment.  

David MacDonald – Residential schools
Department of Political Science
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 58049

MacDonald research Indigenous politics in Canada, particularly Indian residential schools. He is the author of a new book to be published this year entitledThe Sleeping Giant Awakes: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools and the Challenge of Conciliation. 

While studying the experiences of First Nations children and youth in residential schools in Canada, he interviewed numerous residential school survivors and government officials, and attended Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada events and statement gatherings, healing circles and conferences, where many survivors shared their experiences. 

MacDonald has studied the Sixties Scoop and Indigenous children currently in care. He says care of Indigenous children has become a Canadian crisis rooted in a biased system. In many Indigenous communities, family is more community-based with grandparents and extended family caring for children when their parents cannot. The current child welfare system views the nuclear family as the ideal situation, he says, leading to many of these children being taken from their communities. 

Brady Deaton – Water and resources sharing
Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics

Deaton is the McCain Family Chair in Food Security and his research focuses on land resources in food production, rural development and environmental quality. An overview of his research which includes First Nations issues can be found in a recent presentation. 

A large part of his recent research has focused on Indigenous-local intergovernmental partnerships on natural resources use, particularly water sharing agreements between municipalities and nearby First Nations’ reserves near water reserves.

His team’s research has found that Indigenous-local agreements can be key to maintaining and enhancing water quality on reserves where a lack of safe drinking water is a common, chronic problem.

 Robin Roth – Indigenous-led conservation
Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 53525 

Roth is a human-environment geographer with expertise in conservation governance and conflict, political ecology and Indigenous approaches to conservation. As an associate editor of Biological Conservation, she has a particular interest in weaving together multiple ways of knowing to strengthen conservation practice.

Roth’s research has helped to demonstrate that conventional conservation practices, such as national park establishment, can have negative social and ecological impacts in landscapes long governed by Indigenous communities. She now has a particular interest in documenting and supporting innovative and effective models of Indigenous-led conservation governance throughout Canada and globally.

Roth collaborates with a network of Indigenous thought leaders, scholars and conservation-oriented organizations and agencies working to transform conservation in Canada. Collectively, their work supports the establishment of Indigenous Protected and Conserve Areas in Canada and helps to transform current conservation practice to align with Aboriginal and treaty rights by re-centring Indigenous knowledge systems and governance. Doing so will help bring about reconciliation in the conservation sector and beyond.

 Shauna McCabe – Indigenous art
Director of the Art Gallery of Guelph 
Phone: 519-837-0010 

McCabe coordinates research projects and educational opportunities related to the gallery’s Indigenous collections. She curated The Drive, AGG’s current exhibition that situates the work of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven in relation to contemporary Canadian and Indigenous artists to address the effects of colonization and changing relationships to the land with a focus on ecological sustainability and environmental justice.

This winter, McCabe also led an innovative learning opportunity in which students researched contemporary Indigenous artists and proposed the acquisition of new works to expand the representation of in the gallery’s collections. Ten artworks representing vital new voices by four Indigenous artists were chosen.

Ben Bradshaw – Mining sector and First Nations
Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 58460 

Bradshaw studies environmental governance, especially the Canadian mining sector’s relations with Indigenous communities.

He has researched the mining sector’s use of company-community agreements, called Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs), investigating their effectiveness and relationship to regulatory systems governing mine developments.

He is also the originator of the IBA research network, which brings together academics, regulators, Indigenous leaders, industry representatives and consultants to facilitate research to address knowledge gaps. This networking has enabled Bradshaw to understand the perspectives of Indigenous communities, mining firms and regulators on mine development in remote regions. He has completed work with three First Nations near the “Ring of Fire” in northern Ontario to help them develop ways to track their well-being based on their own indicators.