I am piloting and evaluating a new methodology called, "empowerment journalism.” My dissertation project centres on a collaborative digital storytelling project with Indigenous peoples in Yellowknife.

Research Description

In collaboration with a community advisory board in Yellowknife, NWT and the Global Reporting Centre at UBC, I am piloting and evaluating a new methodology called, "empowerment journalism.” My dissertation project centres on a collaborative digital storytelling project with Indigenous peoples in Yellowknife. Drawing on perspectives from Indigenous, arts-based, and community-based research and participatory journalism, I am positioning my research project to act on key recommendations: 1) meaningful involvement of Indigenous peoples, knowledges, and ways of knowing, 2) critical reflections on power, privilege, and responsibilities in Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborations, and 3) methodologies that amplify Indigenous voices and teach non-Indigenous researchers to "listen differently". I hope to better understand opportunities, barriers, and strategies for influencing reporting practices to better align with decolonizing initiatives.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a Public Scholar is an exciting opportunity to move my work beyond traditional academic boundaries. I am thrilled to use my dissertation as a platform to explore more creative and innovative ways to build accountability with diverse communities and audiences.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

Working within, rather than distinct from, communities enriches research initiatives and amplifies more diverse voices. The lens of Public Scholarship invites unique opportunities for collaborative and creative doctoral research.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

I hope to continue building a career in public scholarship by working between community and academic settings and incorporating arts and storytelling into more innovative research and teaching. I’m particularly excited about using film and visual storytelling techniques to bring an integrated knowledge translation approach into classrooms and community research initiatives.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

My project centres on partnerships with community co-investigator, William Greenland, a community advisory board in Yellowknife, and storytellers. Storytellers or participants in this project maintain ownership of their data, make decisions about the direction and content of their stories, and direct the team on how to realize their vision. Their reflections on engaging in the “empowerment journalism” methodology and their finished stories will contribute significantly to my dissertation writing. Once the stories are complete, we will organize a community-screening event in Yellowknife to showcase and celebrate the films, share reflections on the process of telling collaborative stories, and influence local journalists to work in a better way. I am also co-organizing a public panel event in Yellowknife to explore decolonizing strategies in Northern journalism.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

Researchers and journalists alike who report on Indigenous peoples commonly favour narratives of community/cultural deficits while ignoring the impacts of colonialism and systemic racism. Parachuting in and out of communities rather than building partnerships is also common, and contributes to the colonial practices of extracting resources and stories from communities for the benefit and consumption of “audiences back home.” In working on a project that centres on and elevates the goals and knowledge of Indigenous storytellers, I hope to illustrate strategies for researchers and journalists to work in a good way with the communities they study.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Towards the end of my Master’s degree, I moved to Ireland for a 3-month research practicum placement to work on my thesis. I worked for a fabulous supervisor. He encouraged me to be creative and helped me to develop the confidence to take on leadership roles in research. And while I liked research during my Master’s degree, I fell in love with research in the time after. I got to be adventurous in my studies and I met wonderful people who inspired and enriched my work. Soon, my 3-month placement in Ireland turned into 4 months, and then 6. When I was coming up on a year, my Master’s thesis was long finished and I was busy completing two other research projects. My supervisor took me for coffee and inquired into my future in research. He was sure that I would succeed as a researcher and that I needed to pursue a PhD. I was ready, he assured me. And, I was. I am now thrilled to be in my final year and able to see my research career start take shape.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

When I was applying for PhD programs, I struggled to figure out where I fit. I wanted to have the freedom and flexibility to build a program for myself. I wanted to be truly innovative in bringing arts and visual approaches into research, and to try things that had not been done before. I was immediately drawn to the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program and the opportunity to do just that.

 

Being a Public Scholar is an exciting opportunity to move my work beyond traditional academic boundaries. I am thrilled to use my dissertation as a platform to explore more creative and innovative ways to build accountability with diverse communities and audiences.