Ja aa haanach’e. I am Dunne-Za Cree of the Brown family of West Moberly First Nations, and am an IAR Fellow (Centre for Japanese Research) and Socio-Cultural and Indigenous Anthropologist. My PhD research looks at the relationship between Dunne-Za Cree histories and cultural heritage and Western Colonialism. Broadly, my specialization is in critical engagement with how Indigenous and non-Indigenous (in)formal narratives shape our understandings and expectations of contemporary Indigenous identity and identity-making processes.
Keywords: Dunne-Za Cree; Indigeneity; Colonialism and decolonization; Indigenous histories and cultural heritage
For my PhD, my research will look at the relationship between Dunne-Za Cree histories and cultural heritage and Western Colonialism. Working with my community of West Moberly First Nations, I will document, organize and digitize Dunne-Za Cree histories, cultural practices and ways of being, and use this knowledge to develop and use Dunne-Za Cree IRM to decolonize colonial-shaped narratives of our histories and culture. Together, we will work to answer “How do our (colonial and non-colonial) histories shape our understanding of what it means to be Dunne-Za Cree in present day?”
Since 2019, my research has focused on ‘urban’ Ainu Indigeneity in Japan and North America, exploring questions and experiences of Ainu identity-making, community and (non)belonging. As an undergraduate student, my BA Honours thesis, titled “Decolonizing Urban Indigenous Studies: Defining and Redefining Indigeneity,” is an exploration and critique of the use of the diaspora model in framing urban Indigenous peoples, experiences and livelihoods. I argue the need for a more inclusive framework that speaks to the diversity of urban Indigenous peoples, given that many of them, especially in Canada: 1) still reside on (urban) ancestral land and are therefore not displaced; 2) have little to no connection to a non-urban traditional homeland and as a result, may feel little to no cultural loss; and 3) live in places where recognized traditional territories are often either only a fraction of or not at all one’s ancestral lands, thus, showing that homeland-making can and does occur outside of ancestral lands. From this, I suggest the need to recognize and meaningfully engage with urban Indigenous experience and livelihoods as being authentically Indigenous and not of an inherent cultural, traditional, and land deficit.
For my MA thesis, titled “Precarious Indigeneity: Ainu Identity-Making in [Digital] North America and its rootedness in Western Indigenous Experience,” I explore Ainu identity-making in North America and through digital spaces. I argue that whereas Ainu identity-making of those who grew up and live in Japan is rooted in Ainu in Japan experience, American Ainu identity-making is largely informed by and rooted in Western Indigenous experience. With this comes uniquely North American-based experiences and anxieties of culture appropriation, identity gatekeeping, and Indigenous authenticity. From this, I aim to provide another way to reimagine Ainu identity-making that speaks to the realities of learning what it means to be Ainu and Indigenous in present day, and as a multiethnic, digitally connected individual and community rooted in North America. My PhD builds off this research, but shifts focus to my own community of West Moberly First Nations. Through my research, I mainly hope to contribute to a more inclusive and diverse understanding and respect for the multifaceted ways in which Indigeneity is learned, grown, and expressed.
2020—2025, PhD 4YR GSI & Tuition
2021, Irving K. Barber BC Indigenous Student Award (Doctoral level)
2020, David Lam Centre Research Award
2020—2021, IndSpire, Allan & Gill Gray Foundation Awards
2020, The Japan Foundation, Tanaka Fund Travel Program, (declined due to COVID-19 travel restrictions)
2019—2020, Irving K. Barber BC Indigenous Student Award (Master level)
Dr. Mark Turin