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Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2021)
By the 1960s, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was a space of poverty, precarious housing, homelessness, violence, and mortal risk for women residents, many of whom were Indigenous. Between the 1960s and 1980s, women of diverse class and cultural backgrounds, including White women, Indigenous women, and other women of colour, identified these conditions as a problem and responded by developing new social services. Through feminist analysis of documentary and oral historical sources related to women’s poverty in this neighbourhood and responding development of a new service infrastructure, this dissertation offers a new history of gendered precarity and politics in late-twentieth-century urban Canada. Specifically, this work connects social work, philanthropy, Christian charity, and community-based labour to political activism to situate what I call a politics of care as an important aspect of late-twentieth-century social movements. By bringing together the concepts of care and precarity in a unique framework, this dissertation illuminates entangled structures of inequity that precipitated, shaped, and entrenched women’s poverty, homelessness, and vulnerability to violence, poor health, and untimely death in the city, but also the creative ways women endured, resisted, challenged, and changed these conditions. Women’s organizing, however, had complex, even contradictory, outcomes: this history shows that care work mitigated but also sustained inequity. Limited in material ways, these women addressed only the conditions, and not the causes of precarity. Nevertheless, through their activism, these women remade this neighbourhood: they transformed the social and physical geographies of the Downtown Eastside to be more responsive to the immediate material needs of marginalized women and families, and thus laid the foundation for a community-oriented neighbourhood. This historical study has present-day implications. It demonstrates that until structures of poverty are attended to with large-scale political will and state investment, precarity will persist. Most significantly, it shows that an empowerment model of care that equips people with the resources in place to create change in their own lives, is what is most effective at producing different, more hopeful futures.
As Indigenous rights discourse continues to advance in Canada, overarching concepts of Métis, in particular those concerning recognition and rights, continue to evolve. The micro-level or management of the relationship between Canada and small-scale Métis societies provides an opportunity to highlight issues concerning Métis/state relations. As areas such as Jasper National Park are tasked with restoring a Métis presence, how has this relationship evolved? Attempts at creating a working relationship with Métis in Jasper are confounded by uncertainty concerning Métis rights and identity. In addition, Métis are expected to abandon prior practices in organization and governance in return for access to micro-level authorities. Longstanding grievances by Métis who contend that government malfeasance resulted in their ancestors being evicted from Jasper National Park upon its inception remains hidden, as local authorities continue to find ways to marginalize Métis who are averse to participating in colonial relationships designed and controlled by micro-level authorities. Alliances with other groups with territories in National Parks, such as the Haida Nation, may provide insight and solutions. As Métis/Indigenous awareness and rights advance an important area of concern will remain in the actions of micro-level bureaucrats.
This study offers fresh perspective on Indigenous identity, conversion, and community. It does so through the little-studied lens of the Baha’i Faith, a religion of mid-nineteenth-century Iranian origin based on principles of oneness and a global vision of “unity in diversity.” Several thousand Indigenous people “declared” (or converted, as other faiths more commonly put it) as Baha’is in North America during the second half of the twentieth century. This study considers, by way of oral history, how and why Indigenous individuals from a broad range of backgrounds in both Canada and the United States, people who now share a sense of community, became Baha’is in this period. It demonstrates the dynamic interplay between their practices of Indigenous identities and of the Baha’i religion. Indeed, challenging conventional (and colonial) readings of Indigenous conversion and identity, which frame the first as assimilation and the second as static, this study illustrates that for many Indigenous adherents the process of becoming Baha’i was at once a process of becoming Indigenous. For some, becoming a Baha’i served to strengthen an existing sense of self as Indigenous, outside colonial strictures. For others, it was in fact through their Baha’i observance that they came to openly identify as Indigenous for the first time. Baha’i declaration and practice also brought adherents into new Indigenous and intercultural interaction, both in and outside the Baha’i community. Indigenous Baha’is often worked to realize their religious vision of peace and unity in diversity through outreach and service among other Indigenous people, in North America and elsewhere. In the process, they produced a sense of global Indigenous identification and made multiple contributions to such fields as Indigenous health, education, and cultural revitalization. In building Baha’i community, specifically, they also forged striking relationships of mutual respect with non-Indigenous adherents, while also confronting colonial tensions of intercultural communication and normative patterns of non-Indigenous practice and privilege. This study, then, further illuminates the pain and the promise of forging unity in diversity in Indigenous, and global, North America.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
This paper uses the life and politics of one man to analyse the dynamics of settlercolonialism in Saskatchewan over the years directly following the Second World War. It tracks thehistory of Thomas Clement Douglas (1904 - 1986) and his peers in the Canadian province ofSaskatchewan. It examines his career and colleagues in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation(CCF) party, where Douglas served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 - 1962 before moving tothe federal government as leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP).This paper demonstrates how settler colonialism circumscribed what was ‘thinkable’ forDouglas and his peers, with the resulting effect that well-intended policies intended to helpSaskatchewan’s Indigenous population had negative outcomes. Douglas’ policy goals towardsIndigenous peoples in Saskatchewan differed little from the ways he approached the empowermentof all minority groups, and focused on political representation, citizenship rights (notably, forIndigenous groups, liquor licensing and the provincial franchise), and the extension andimprovement of provincial welfare services. This paper focuses in particular on the extension of theprovincial franchise and liquor licensing policies. Although Douglas planned wide-reaching reformfor almost all parts of Saskatchewan society, he never imagined that Saskatchewan society would be fundamentally altered in order to accommodate Indigenous peoples. On the contrary, he alwaysassumed that Indigenous people would have to be shaped to fit into the existing social and politicalframework. Douglas’ Indian Policy was not a paradox or an anomaly within an otherwise radical,progressive agenda. Rather, his progressivism itself was situated within the tenets of settlercolonialism.
This thesis examines and situates the Oral History Project of the Métis Women of Manitoba Inc. within its specific historical context. Two Métis women and Co-Chairs of the Cultural Heritage Committee of the MWM, Lorraine Freeman and Doreen Breland-Fines conducted the project in 1993. These interviews provide a critical entry point into a conversation of Métis identity at a time in which the contours of the Métis Nation were being re-articulated by Métis organizations such as the Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. Before Canadian legislation in Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and Bill C-31 Métis organizations advocated for both Métis and Non-Status recognition. After these legislative acts Métis organizations increasingly adopted a concept of the Métis Nation within ethno-nationalist parameters. These concerns structured how the OHP operated as a project. The OHP wanted to discuss national symbols, such as the Ceinture Fléchée (the Sash) and ban-nock, because they were easily distinguishable outward expressions of Métis-ness. However, interviewees challenged these expectations and complicated how Métis nationalism was conceptualized in the OHP. These interviews demonstrated the interplay between individuals, Métis organizations, and the Canadian state in the construction of Métis identities. As an archive this project gestured towards the fluidity of identity.