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    Dr. Rick Monture (Acting Director)

    Rick Monture is a member of the Mohawk nation, Turtle clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. His areas of academic interest include Haudenosaunee history, First Nation, Métis and Inuit literatures, popular culture, and the epistemology of Indigenous language and culture. We Share Our Matters: Two Centuries of Writing and Resistance at Six Nations of the Grand River, Dr. Monture’s 2015 book, draws on the writings of Joseph Brant, Pauline Johnson, Seth Newhouse and Chief Deskaheh to examine the philosophies and intellectual traditions that have shaped Six Nations and informed their understanding of themselves as a sovereign people.

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    Valerie O’Brien (Research Coordinator)

    Valerie O’Brien is Mushkegowuk Cree from northern Ontario and is a McMaster alumna who received an Honours BA in Psychology, a MSc in Health Research Methodology and a diploma in Health Services and Policy Research. Valerie brings to MIRI significant experience in Indigenous health research and community-based participatory research approaches.

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    Dr. Vanessa Watts

    Vanessa Watts, Director of the Indigenous Studies Program, is Mohawk and Anishnaabe and is of the Bear Clan from Six Nations. Her research focuses on Indigenous material knowledge production sites amongst the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe. She examines the roles of gender, sexuality, spirit, and other-than-humans in how material knowledge is produced and inherited within Indigenous communities amidst colonialism. Her research is framed within broader discussions of how epistemology and ontology are oriented to Indigenous cosmologies.

    Vanessa currently holds an Arts Research Board grant entitled, “Working Colonial Sexualities: Indigenous Sex Workers and the Colonial Desire”, which will interrogate feminist approaches to agency in the sex trade industry in an effort to make space for the voices of Indigenous sex workers. This research will document how power and agency are particularly inaccessible to Indigenous women in the sex trade as well as contextualize discussions of prostitution, colonization and Indigenous women in Canada’s efforts towards decriminalization of sex work, and the discourse of empowerment imbedded within it.

  • Chelsea Gabel

    Dr. Chelsea Gabel

    As an Indigenous scholar, Dr. Chelsea Gabel has been developing a broad
    program of research entitled Strengthening Indigenous Health, Well-being and Self-determination through the use of Digital Technology to strengthen the evidence for the importance of intergenerational approaches to understanding the health and wellbeing of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. She has successfully secured three national SSHRC grants ($1 million) as Principal Investigator exploring the impact of digital technology on Indigenous participation, governance and intergenerational communication. She was also awarded a contract in March 2014 through the government of Nunavut aimed at understanding the health, social, cultural, and political economic pressures facing a small Arctic community as it prepares for major resource development. Her most recent SSHRC Knowledge Synthesis Grant examines methodological trends and approaches used across social science disciplines to study Indigenous issues in Canada, and will look at the extent of participation in research by Indigenous scholars and communities. This information will be used to determine the resources needed to ensure equal participation and leadership of Indigenous peoples in shaping future social science research in their communities. Dr. Gabel has published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, the Canadian Journal of Native Studies, the International Indigenous Policy Journal, the Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing, the Qualitative Report, the International Journal of Indigenous Health, among others.

    In December 2015, Dr. Gabel was selected as one of 81 McMaster faculty members for her research excellence. Additionally, her project in Nunavut was selected as a McMaster University Research Impact Success Story and was featured at Congress, 2016. Dr. Gabel is involved in a number of research collaborations across Canada that integrate her expertise in community-based participatory research, photovoice, intervention research and Indigenous health and well-being. Dr. Gabel is also a member of the Canadian Institutes for Health

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    Dr. Randy Jackson

    What makes it possible for people with HIV to live longer and better lives? Some insights might be found among Canada’s Aboriginal communities. Among many Aboriginal groups, HIV rates are rising, and yet many who have the virus live comparatively stable, happy and long lives. Randy Jackson is Anishinaabe from Kettle and Stony Point First Nation and has become an expert in HIV in Indigenous communities in Canada. Dissatisfied with existing research, which tended to focus excessively on pathologizing Indigenous people, Jackson works with communities to find a different perspective–one grounded in cultural world views. Jackson continues to study how Indigenous ways of knowing the world can influence lived experiences of HIV. By better understanding the role of culture in the lives of people living with HIV, Jackson reveals parts of the bigger picture of the sociological facets of human health. Jackson teaches courses in Aboriginal Health and Wellness, and also in the Community-Based Research methods that are at the heart of his own research. This community-based approach has broad implications and potential, providing new insights into the ways resilience – not just physical, but also spiritual, emotional and mental – can be grounded in Indigenous knowledge, community and world views.

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    Dr. Dawn Martin-Hill

    Dr. Dawn Martin-Hill holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and is one of the original founders of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University. She is the inaugural Paul R. McPherson Indigenous Studies Chair.

    Dr. Martin-Hill’s research is grounded in the principle that solution-based research in the area of Indigenous health must occur alongside building capacity for community collaborations. She has embodied this principle through her numerous community commitments: including serving as Chair of the Indigenous Elders and Youth Council to promote the protection and preservation of Indigenous Knowledge systems; serving as an expert witness on traditional medicines; and supporting reconciliation efforts to improve health services delivery to FN through the “Harmonization of Traditional Medicine” in partnership with Six Nations Health Services. While working with communities, Dr. Martin Hill has led numerous grants funded by both SSHRC and CIHR to conduct Indigenous knowledge research focused on Indigenous youth, women, language, ceremonies, traditional medicine and well-being.

    Dr. Martin Hill has served on review committees for CIHR and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. She is currently a member of the Editorial Board of Sociology and Anthropology and a reviewer for The International Indigenous Policy Journal. In addition, Dr. Martin-Hill has led important groundwork for Indigenous peer review capacity in her role as the inaugural chair of the Aboriginal Health Research Networks (AHRNetS) Secretariat. Much of this work included identifying and removing epistemological barriers to Indigenous Knowledge health research. She also worked to develop a cohort of potential Indigenous Knowledge peer reviewers for CIHR-IAPH.

    She resides on the Grand River, Six Nations. She is a single mother of four with two teenagers at home and a grandmother of eight, her healthy family is considered her greatest achievement to date.

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    Dr. Bernice Downey

    Dr. Bernice Downey is a woman of Oji/Cree and Celtic heritage, a mother and a grandmother. She is a medical anthropologist with research interests in health, health literacy and Indigenous Traditional knowledge and health/research system reform for Indigenous populations. She is the Regional Aboriginal Cancer Lead for Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto-Central Region. She recently completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the McMaster Research Office & the School of Graduate Studies.

    Bernice’s professional experience includes Sole Proprietor of her consulting company; ‘Minoayawin – Good Health Consulting’; Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Health Organization, Executive Director of the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, Associate Director and Research Associate of the Well Living House – Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She was a member of the the Canadian Institute of Health Research – Institute of Aboriginal Health, Advisory Board for six years. She is an experienced administrator, facilitator, and an organizational and systemic change agent. She is also a life – long advocate in the work towards addressing the serious health inequities among Indigenous populations in Canada.

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    Dr. Bonnie Freeman

    Bonnie Freeman is Algonquin/Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at McMaster. Her work and research is rooted in connections with Six Nations, the Hamilton Aboriginal Community and other Indigenous communities throughout Canada and the United States. Her research interests are extensive. Her PhD dissertation research examined the journey of Six Nations Haudenosaunee youth, as they travelled on foot through their ancestral lands promoting the message of peace and unity and understanding the transformation of identity and well-being from the connection to land and culture, and self-determination.

    Her research is rooted with Indigenous communities that focus on cultural interventions in social work practice, community healing approaches, anti-oppressive practices and decolonization, and indigenous-non-indigenous relations and alliances.