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Dr. Bonnie Freeman is McMaster’s 2023-25 Indigenous Scholar-in-Community.

2023-25 Indigenous Scholar-in-Community Fellowship


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Dr. Bonnie Freeman is McMaster’s 2023-25 Indigenous Scholar-in-Community.

Bonnie Freeman is Algonquin/Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. 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 traveled 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.

Bonnie is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McMaster.

More information about the project:


Six Nations of the Grand River Child and Family Services

Project title:

Exploring the Haudenosaunee Perspective of Youth’s Well-being and Identity through the Connection with Water, Land, and the Great Law of Peace


The project would expand our understanding of how the epistemology of land and water through the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace not only improves the well-being, sense of belonging, and identity that alleviates the distress that many youths carry due to their experience in child welfare.

The objective of this project is as follows:

  1. Building upon a previous scoping literature review of global Indigenous epistemology in how Indigenous child welfare services incorporate self-determining and self-governing knowledge and approaches within their practices.
  2. This project will gather and synthesize Haudenosaunee literature and community knowledge to develop culturally appropriate best practices that incorporate the tenets of the Great Law of Peace to support the well-being and welfare of Haudenosaunee children and families of Six Nations of the Grand River.
  3. Collaborate with SNCFS to create an evaluation framework that supports existing, new and enhanced programs and can be measured in culturally appropriate ways.


This project expands our previous research from a global level to a community level by understanding water, land, and cultural knowledge to improve health and well-being. The Grand River provides the identity, sovereignty, and responsibility to Six Nations Haudenosaunee to preserve the natural environment for future generations. This project is also important because, in 2020 the Federal government enacted Bill-C92 which recognizes the jurisdiction of child and family services and the inherent right of First Nations self-government in establishing their own national standards and law in child and family services as it pertains to the ‘best interest of the child’. Six Nations Child and Family Services has been working to create and develop a Haudenosaunee evaluation framework that supports culturally appropriate outcome measures which is significant for our work with Six Nations children and families.


About the Indigenous Scholar-in-Community Fellowship:

Indigenous Scholar-in-Community Fellowship


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