Alana's home nation is Métis Nation British Columbia.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
One of the greatest gifts I ever received was doing my Masters degree within an Indigenous paradigm; it literally taught me a new way of thinking through the practice of Etuaptmumk or “Two-Eyed Seeing” (viewing the world through both a Western/Eurocentric and an Indigenous lens). I have high hopes that my doctoral journey will give me the same professional and personal growth. I have three goals I want to achieve from the doctoral program: make a dramatic contribution to the research around health, sport, and wellness for the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, bring new understanding and appreciation towards the martial arts, and enhance myself as an Indigenous scholar. Although UBC was developed as a Western/Euro-centric place of learning, I have found the staff and students within the Kinesiology Department to be accepting and supportive towards decolonial approaches to education. I am eager to conduct my research in a space that allows me to explore the gifts of traditional, empirical, and revealed knowledge that are found within Indigenous ways of knowing.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I was originally hired in the Fall of 2022 as an adjunct professor at UBC in the department of Kinesiology! I taught several semesters of the course KIN 368: Indigenous Sport and Physical Culture in Settler Canada. I was very impressed by the support I received from Dr. Boushel and his team, and their dedication to ensuring that I was comfortable and empowered to teach this course the way I envisioned. When I teach my class at UBC, I do so primarily from within an Indigenous paradigm, amplifying and drawing expertise from Indigenous voices and using Land-based, experiential learning to pass on knowledge. The feedback I got from my students was incredibly heart-warming: they truly resonated with the experiential, Land-based learning style I promoted, and developed an inspiring passion for allyship that I have seen evolve beyond the class. After a fortunate meeting with Dr. Janice Forsyth (whose expertise draws on Indigenous sport, health, and wellness theory as it relates to the people of Turtle Island) who expressed interest in supervising me, I knew that UBC was the place for me to achieve my doctorate degree.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
As a lifelong athlete and a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, I have always been fascinated by the dichotomy between physical and mental fortitude. As someone in a sport many perceive as brutal and unintelligent, I want to formally explore the beautiful gifts of the martial arts, and how it correlates with elements of Indigenous culture. Although my educational background is not in kinesiology, I have found many overlaps between Land-based education and kinesiology, and was attracted to the flexibility and mentorship found within the Doctorate of Philosophy in Kinesiology degree.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I love the work that UBC has begun to do towards decolonizing their campus by offering multiple resources to promote Indigenous knowledge (for Indigenous students and settlers alike). For all new students, I highly recommend taking the free Decolonization Tour offered by the Belkin Art Gallery, which breaks down the colonial history of UBC and how it has begun to repair and fortify its relationship with the Musqueam peoples. If you are an Indigenous student, I highly recommend meeting for lunch on Tuesdays at the Longhouse!
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
When my Masters cohort travelled to Hawai'i, we were told a traditional proverb: A'ohe pau ka 'ike i ka hālau ho'okāhi : all knowledge is not taught in the same school. My life has been filled with so many knowledge sources (family, sport, health, community, career) that led me to realize learning is not a hierarchy: it is a web. On my graduate journey, I am delighted to share the knowledge I have, and am grateful for the knowledge that will be shared with me.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I enjoy low-incline hiking (OK, it's walking), creating beadwork art, travel, and attending corgi picnics.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Balance! I look to traditional medicine wheel teachings, and recognize that when I start to feel unwell, it is usually because I am not nourishing myself as a whole: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually/culturally. A wheel that's flat on one side will not roll smoothly. Remember to take care of every part of yourself.
Outside of your academic work, what are the ways that you engage with your local or global community? Are there projects in particular that you are proud of?
I am extremely proud of my passion project: “Walking Like Warriors: Basic Self-Defense for Indigenous Youth.” As an Indigenous martial artist, I wanted to give back to my community by creating an inclusive, empowering, and culturally safe self-defense workshop specifically intended for women and youth in Indigenous communities. Since 2016, I have hosted many free workshops and worked with hundreds of women and youth on- and off-reserve to help them learn how to defend themselves.