University of Victoria

Current Student Bios

PhD Candidates

Robyn Heaslip
Settler Canadian - French/Irish Heritage

Masters in Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University
Bachelor of Science, Biology and Anthropology, UVic

Research interests: Understanding Coast Salish perspectives on ethical ways of being and taking up responsibilities in relation to land, place, and community. I'm interested in how these ethics can provide guidance for settlers in grassroots solidarity efforts and initiatives towards decolonization within their own communities. From a basis of Coast Salish teachings, I will explore other philosophies that may provide ideas for enacting an alternate, place-based and anti-colonial praxis. These fields include transformational learning, post-colonialism, community economies, social psychology, and critical race and feminist perspectives. I hope to identity and describe existing settler efforts towards solidarity and decolonization, to explore the narratives of identity, motivation and collective action of those involved in these efforts, and in the process create space for dialogue about settler roles and responsibilities within Coast Salish territories.


Jarrett Martineau
Cree/Dene of Frog Lake First Nation

Master of Arts, Indigenous Governance, UVic Bachelor of Arts, English Literature & Canadian Studies, McGill University

Jarrett Martineau is Cree/Dene from Frog Lake First Nation in Alberta and a Ph.D. Candidate in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria. His research examines contemporary Indigenous political communication at the critical intersections of media, technology, art, aesthetics, music, and performance. His dissertation focuses on the role of art and creativity in Indigenous struggles for nationhood and decolonization. His work seeks to articulate strategies for resurgence and community renewal, through the dissemination of decolonial thought and practice, that are based on a commitment to Indigenous teachings and lifeways. Prior to pursuing his doctoral studies, Jarrett received an MA in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria. He is the co-founder and Creative Producer of Revolutions Per Minute (, a global new music platform to promote Indigenous music culture and an organizer with the Indigenous Nationhood Movement. He is currently a 2013-14 Fulbright visiting scholar at Columbia University and CUNY's Center for Place, Culture and Politics.



MAIG 2013

Christine Bird
Anishinaabe/Cree, Peguis First Nation

Bachlor of Arts Criminology & Sociology, University of Winnipeg

Research Interests: "neo-colonial" thinking and practices that continue to oppress Indigenous peoples; how language, teachings and ceremonies can serve as a source of direction in navigating Indigenous sovereignty, and the development of an Indigenous political framework.



John Carlson

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Art History, Carleton University

I am interested in the question of exclusion. In the course of a cultural resurgence it is important to determine precisely who is included/excluded in the process of validating a community's vision of itself. As an Indigenous researcher I believe I am obligated to provide a critical voice for communities on the road back to nationhood. I am also engaged in the process of recovering my own identity as an Anishinaabe Inini.



Erynne Michelle Gilpin
Saulteaux Métis- Filipina, settler

Bachelor of Arts, Social Justice and Peace Studies and Modern Languages, King's University College (UWO).

How can education decolonize existing economic, political and social structures and mobilize Indigenous into creative and sustainable leadership in the midst of the global climate crisis? As a young Métis researcher, my Master's research will examine the transformative application of Popular Education (from murals, street art, hip-hop, dance yoga and more) to the construction of young political, social and economic agents of change, specifically in the realm of ecological justice.



Senka Eriksen

Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology and Women's & Gender Studies, Athabasca University

Research interests include: Intersectional anti-colonial theory and praxis,decolonization processes, interrogation of hegemonic paradigms and practices, settler accountability and the deconstruction of settler-colonial benevolence. In addition, I am interested in phenomenological embodiment in a variety of experiential contexts such as identity, culture, relationship to the natural environment, language and voice, emotions, and diverse sites of resistance.



Kailey Imes
Settler Canadian

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), History, University of Alberta

Some of my research interests include (public) history, education, knowledge, and pedagogy; Indigenous education; and Indigenous research methods and methodologies.



Kirsten Lindquist
Métis, Elk Point, Alberta

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Native Studies, University of Alberta
Bachelor of Commerce, University of Alberta

I am interested in exploring whether the theoretical assumptions of the Indigenous Twitterverse would be achievable and beneficial for leadership communication and action in the governance of Indigenous communities. I will explore how the virtual spaces of social media not only influence political mobilization and governance at a local community level, but how these spaces overlap at a global level, promoting a resurgence of nation-to-nation dialogue. These intersections have the opportunity to be extensions of spaces where Indigenous peoples can identify and practice resistance. I'm also interested in learning how community values and governance extends into virtual social media spaces. How do we maintain personal integrity, and remain accountable to our communities in these spaces?


Jessie Recalma
Coast Salish and Kwakwaka'wakw

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy with a minor in Liberal Studies

Research interests: As someone who has involved himself in the canoe culture, I'm beginning to witness the world in a different light. It is a completely different universe on the water and I believe that there is a lot that this style of life can bring in a community. Through this lifestyle we receive teachings from both our elders and the land. The elders and the land reveal the abundance of cultural value there is for us to gain, but when we put that value on the side to satisfy our wallets we lose our knowledge, culture, and our identity as indigenous peoples. That is not something I want to see disappear, so one of my goals is to promote a cultural resurgence and a sense of indigenous pride among people who are just beginning to find themselves.


Sumbal Sabah
Punjabi Canadian Settler

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and Criminology, Brescia University College at the University of Western Ontario

Research interests: fighting to keep the Indigenous culture of my community from becoming "museum-ated". As globalization becomes a part of our everyday reality and oppression, it also manages to strangle my people in Lahore into conforming to the ideologies of the Western world. It is my hypothesis that if there isn't a cultural revitalization and dialogue in regards to the assimilation that is occurring, the clothes of my people will eventually end up in museums. It is through this deep rooted concern for my own Indigenous culture that brings me to IGOV with the deep interest in learning about how Indigenous clothing is used to resist colonialism. By working, living, and dialoguing with Indigenous communities here on Turtle Island I want to learn how cultural clothing affects the identities of those who make and wear them and what Indigenous stories and wisdom are passed on while such clothing is made.


Nikki Sanchez
Pipil (Mayan), Irish Scottish

Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Studies and Women's Studies, University of Victoria

My research, grounded in Indigenous epistemologies, biocultural diversity and contemporary Indigenous resistance movements, will explore inter-disciplinary strategies for cultural revitalization and resistance among youth with an emphasis on transmission of traditional ecological knowledge. Using this research, I am interested in crafting applied frameworks and models for biocultural restoration and environmental education applicable for Indigenous peoples globally, with an emphasis on Central America where I am from.


Jessica Tessier
Human Being

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Political Science and Philosophy, Brescia University College at the University of Western Ontario

My primary research interest is the ethical space between Indigenous and non-Indigenous governance structures, and how these structures reflect those in power. I want to focus my research on the building and implementation of Indigenous governments, and the maintaining of effective, appropriate and accountable intergovernmental relations between Indigenous and other levels of government, while avoiding the gaze of universality. My secondary research interest is in food sovereignty and its implications on alliance-building and decolonization.





MAIG 2012

Sherry Antone
Oneida Nation of the Thames

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science & First Nations Studies, Universityh of Western Ontario

Research Interests: A combined analysis of the decision making processes found within the Indian Act and traditional government systems; in order to examine the methods and the level of involvement and/or role of the community members within this process. This research is intended to provide case studies of imposed and traditional decision making processes in order to understand the level effectiveness and to further identify gaps that could be resolved through the development of contemporary Indigenous Nation decision making protocols.


Kim Hayward
Settler Canadian, Edmonton Alberta

Bachelor of Fine Art and Design, Anthropology minor, University of Alberta

I am interested the psycho-social barriers that deter settler Canadians from engaging in conversations of decolonization. In my research I am committed to challenging and questioning presumptive Western philosophies and exploring Western cultural biases that perpetuate oppressive colonial relationships. Through my research I hope to challenge the presumption that Indigenous issues are separate from non-Indigenous issues in Canada, and instead conceptualize continual colonial oppression as having real implications for the social and environmental wellbeing of the entire country.



Shane Keepness
Saulteaux Cree, Muscowpetung First Nation, Treaty 4 territory

Bachelor of Science, Environmental Health and Sicence
Certificate in Indian Health Sciences, University of Regina

As Indigenous people, it is our innate responsibility to look after the land, along with advocating the negative impacts from industrialization. I am interested in developing community-based solutions for Indigenous communities to help them to keep their traditional territories pristine and in their natural state. I am also interested in learning more about the numbered treaties and advocating for them as they ensure our survival in the numbered treaty territories.



Daryl Lucero
Isleta Publo

Bachelors of Fine Arts, Studio Arts, Institute of American Indian Arts

I am interested in looking at the socio-political underpinnings of Indigenous communities, as a means to deconstruct colonialism; holding colonial exploitation and destruction accountable on a community level; drawing on historic modes of cultural survivance, I plan to reframe and advocate for community solutions to our current realities.



Mandee McDonald
Swampy Cree

Bachelor of Arts, Honours Political Science, Indigenous Studies minor, UVic

I am interested in investigating the role of traditional activities such as beading, sewing, and moose hide tanning as deliberate sites of resistance, mobilization, and intergenerational knowledge acquisition. Discussing these practices in terms of the Indigenous cultural revitalization movement, and the implications cultural revitalization has for developing governance models that can reflect and empower the aspirations of Indigenous peoples, she hopes to explore, develop and promote accessible options for urban Indigenous youth to reconnect to traditional teachings and practices through land-based, community-driven educational opportunities.


Kirstin Scansen
Nehithaw, Treaty 6, Lac La Ronge Indian Band

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Political Science minor, University of British Columbia

My research interests include furthering my understandings of the way that the Settler-Colonial Canadian state is implicated in violence against Indigenous women, the application of Treaty relationships to confront the colonial structure of Canada, and resurgence, decolonization, and community healing based on Nehithaw (Woods Cree) worldview.


Corey Snelgrove
Setter Canandian

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, Queen's University

I am interested in the relationship between Indigenous nations/peoples and Settler states/people, with a focus on such relationships within Canada. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the relationship between Settler mentality and the current (ongoing) processes of Indigenous dispossession and oppression. Furthermore, to maintain relevancy, I believe research must also focus upon practical applications of research. Thus, praxis will also be an important aspect of my research.


Jana-Rae Yerxa
Anishinaabe Kwe, Little Eagle and Couchiching First Nation

Masters of Social Work, Lakehead University
Bachelor of Social Work, Honours, Lakehead

I am interested and committed to furthering my understanding of Anishinaabe identity and resurgence and deconstructing Indigenous/settler relations in the contexts of colonization and decolonization.





MAIG 2011

Jessica Benson-Nanagiishkung
Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Anishnabek Nation

Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Education, Intermediate-Senior Native Studies and History, Lakehead University
Bachelor of Art, History (Laurentian University)

Research interests: Indigenous human rights; Indigenous education; and Native-Newcomer relations in Canada.



Ian Ki'laas Caplette
9 Allied Tsimshian Nation Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams Gitando Tribe, Gisbutwaada Clan from the House of Gamiyaam

Undergraduate Degree: First Nations Studies with Political Science Minor, Vancouver Island University

I am interested in decolonization theory as it pertains to fundamental relationships between land (including waters) and the Tsimshian people. Throughout colonization, land alienation has been the goal of the settler state and my interest is to research ways to re-establish the basis of individual and community connection to land through the resurgence of Tsimshian cultural pardigms including traditional name and uses resurgence, language revitalization through experiential learning and storywork, and restoration of ceremonial practices and spaces.

Isabella "Bella" Marble
Mi'kmaq from Indian Brook First Nation

Undergraduate degree: History, Dalhousie University

Research interests: education and indigenous people, indigenous women and community governance, traditional forms of justice and restorative justice.





Our Programs

Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance (MAIG)

The Master of Arts in Indigenous Governance (MAIG) is an interdisciplinary program focused on traditional structures and ways of governance and encompassing the values, perspectives, concepts, and principles of Indigenous political cultures. Through teaching and research that respects both western and Indigenous traditions, methods, and forms of knowledge, students are provided with a strong foundation of basic and applied scholarly research with an emphasis on the nature and context of Indigenous governance and Indigenous-State relations in Canada and internationally.

Read Full Program Information >>

PhD Degree by Special Arrangement

The Faculty of Graduate Studies along with the Indigenous Governance Program (IGOV) offers the selected opportunities for students to pursue a PhD degree by Special Arrangement. The Special Arrangement degree program is available for Indigenous Governance students, as the program does not currently offer a regular Ph.D. degree program. For more information about this program.

Read Full Program Information >>


IGOV is a part of the Faculty of Human and Social Development (HSD).

For more information on the faculty, see:

To learn more about research in HSD, please click here.

Drum Story