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Brian Thom

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My current research focus is on the political, social and cultural processes that have surrounded Coast Salish people's efforts to resolve aboriginal title and rights claims and establish self-government. I am interested in the interplay of culture, power and discourse in land claims negotiations, and in exploring the political and ontological challenges for indigenous people who engage institutions of the state. My work is keenly attenuated to developing practical policy outcomes from the insights gained from this research. My research is community-driven and politically engaged in matters of contemporary social significance.

Current Projects

I have had extensive experience with the BC Treaty Process, and am currently involved in research on issues related to shared territory and overlapping claims, and the development of regional approaches to aboriginal self-government.  I am collaborating with colleagues from the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group and the University of Arizona Indigenous People Law and Policy Program on reframing Indigenous land claims as issues of human rights.  I am collaborating on a SSHRC-funded research projects related to co-management in National Parks (in collaboration with Robin Roth, Geography, York U), and am frequently involved in issues related to collaboration between Parks Canada and First Nations in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.  I am contributing to a SSHRC-funded research project focussed on developing corpora of Hul’q’umi’num’-language contemporary speech, translating and contextualizing powerful land claims speeches made by Hul’q’umi’num’-speaking elders (in collaboration with Su Urbanczyk, Linguistics, UVic).  I am currently writing on the contemporary operation of customary land tenure in the Coast Salish world. I have developing and ongoing research interests in evaluating the status of Coast Salish traditional foods and food security, and examining public policy approaches to reconciling indigenous intangible property rights with the intellectual property system.