Michael Marker

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Traditional Nisga'a leadership: the challenges through change (2019)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge: Dim sagalst' apkw nisim [together we will build a village] (2015)

The purpose of this research was to find out how the culture of an Indigenous architect informs their practice of architecture. The research for this dissertation was motivated by Indigenous Elders responses to my architectural design work as an Indigenous architect. This is the first known research in Canada that privileges the use of Indigenous Knowledge in the design process by Indigenous architects. The results of this research will inform the future education of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in architecture and their practice within the profession. The research was based on an Indigenous methodology of respect, reciprocity, redistribution, relevance, reflection, relationship and responsibility. Conversations with nineteen Indigenous architects from Turtle Island, Australia, Cihuatan (El Salvador) and Aotearoa (New Zealand) were recorded, transcribed with content analyzed. They self-identified their culture and its influence on their design work. They assessed their time in architecture school and proposed changes that would assist schools of architecture attracting Indigenous students into the faculty.The conversations were enlightening in what they did not reveal about the use of Indigenous knowledge in design. Though some of the architects employed Indigenous knowledge in their design process, surprisingly many were not so obvious. There may be many reasons for this, the impact of colonization perhaps the most significant. There was however a general attitude that schools of architecture could do more to attract and retain Indigenous students in their programs. This is significant if universities are truly to embrace cultural competency in an increasingly global economy.

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Indigenous Elders' Pedagogy for Land-Based Health Education Programs: Gee-Zhee-Kan'-Dug Cedar Pedagogical Pathways (2015)

This qualitative research articulates and develops an Anishnabe-Nehiyaw Cree perspective of a tribal pedagogy. The author weaves elements of critical ethnographies, Indigenous oral histories and critical tribal and feminist theories throughout the dissertation. She describes five pedagogical pathways that were developed through an Indigenous conversation method (Kovach, 2010) in 8 research circles with 18 Indigenous Elders in central, rural Manitoba. The research utilizes Indigenous storywork methodologies to gather and interpret the research on Indigenous local land-based pedagogies. The specific Gee-zhee-kan’-dug Cedar pedagogy is described by the Indigenous Elders who teach at a 24 year long land-based health education program. The author outlines five pedagogical learning pathways as key findings, which are: 1) culture: facilitating access to the revitalization of tribal Indigenous knowledges; 2) land: developing local co-partnerships and genealogies connected to territories; 3) orality: using story, ceremony, songs, prayers, language, dreams, performance, and genealogy as the primary modes of teaching; 4) community: aligning educators with local self-determining initiatives such as food sovereignty and access to healthy water and plant medicines; and 5) ethics: interweaving practices with sustainable, health-enhancing and decolonizing agendas.From the example of this Cedar pedagogy, the researcher proposes a framework for educators who want to develop their own local, land-based pedagogies. This framework includes five elements: 1) research local Indigenous nation’s culture and stories, and partner with appropriate resource people; 2) prepare materials and information required for students to learn in the class and on the land, and make space for and provide access to Indigenous knowledge holders; 3) follow local protocol principles, including proper expression of the value principles, negotiate local relationships to land, and modify protocol principles for each context; 4) apply the pedagogy by taking people out on the land, encouraging the use of all of the senses, and engaging respectfully with local peoples and places; and 5) reflect on the experience by sharing local stories of transformation and reconnection to lands/plants. The research concludes with a discussion on how Indigenous knowledge systems can inform land-based pedagogies, and how these pedagogies can have a pivotal role in strengthening peoples’ wholistic health.

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Local Knowledge as Praxis: A Reflective Critical Narrative of Child Welfare Practice and Service to Aboriginal Children and Families (2012)

“The truth about stories is that’s all we are.” Thomas King (2003, p.2).This study is a reflective critical narrative by a non-Aboriginal practitioner whose professional practice has been associated with provision of services to Aboriginal children and families. The themes of the study include: my efforts to make meaning and theorize about my practice; illustrations of how Aboriginal epistemologies and worldviews have transformed my practice; and evidence in the literature, supported by my practice experience, that meaningful service change inclusive of ‘place-centered knowledge’ is necessary for transforming child welfare service and service delivery.My narrative draws on: stories and oral accounts of Aboriginal Elders and carriers of local knowledges; families engaged in Aboriginal Family Group Conferences; statements of Aboriginal community leaders and non-Aboriginal human service agency personnel including government officials. Some of the data is represented in the vignettes; from personal reflections of my participation in ceremonial work and Family Group Conference sharing circles.This reflective narrative responds to three questions: first; what knowledge and human service practice elements a non-Aboriginal professional service provider should possess in order to provide an effective service to Aboriginal children and families, second; what are the impacts of re-introducing local knowledge as the foundation upon which an alternative and effective Aboriginal child welfare service delivery system can be achieved, and third; what paradigm shifts in human services are necessary for the professional helping disciplines to become ‘facilitators of’ rather than ‘obstacles to’ changes that are required for the effective delivery of child welfare services to Aboriginal populations? I call for a service change that re-introduces local cultural practices including ceremony, healing, and sacred spiritual practices; and a general shift in relationships between professionals and families from a linear ‘results based’ approach that identifies with professionalism and Eurocentric knowledge to a relational and ‘process based’ connection and communication that is characteristic of Indigenous epistemologies. Such a transformation is necessary in order to engage the collective resources of Aboriginal extended families to help reduce the high rates of Aboriginal children held in Provincial protective care across Canada.

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Current Students & Alumni

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