Where are they now? IUSRS Scholars Though the Years
Victoria Bomberry (She/Her)
Victoria Bomberry is Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River and participated in the IUSRS Program in 2016. Her supervisor was Dr. M. Waddington, Faculty of Science – School of Earth, Environment & Society. Through Victoria’s research assistantship, she worked in the field as well as in the lab working in partnership with Magnetawan First Nation. This first nation noticed an unusually high death rate of turtles leading to frost exposure during the winter. Victoria joined Dr. Waddington’s research team to investigate possible environmental influences.
Currently, Victoria is entering into her second and final year of her MA – Geography program at the University of Western Ontario. Her research examines the housing experiences and needs of Indigenous students at Western.
Victoria is excited to delve into her master’s research and would like to take it even further. After school, she hopes to continue advocating for appropriate resources for Indigenous Peoples to pursue and succeed in higher education.
“I don’t think I would be in graduate studies or successful in my graduate studies if it weren’t for the IUSRS program. The program really opened my eyes as to what graduate studies is and what academic research can do for our communities.” -Victoria
Brittany Lickers (she/her)
Brittany is Cayuga from Six Nations of the Grand River and participated in the 2016 IUSRS program. Her supervisor was Dr. Chelsea Gabel and the title of their project was, Utilizing Arts-Based Methodology to Generate Understanding of Indigenous Elder-Youth Relationships. This research project used photovoice, and arts-based research approach, to consider ways to increase intergenerational contact and revitalize values related to elder and youth relationships in a Southern Inuit community in St. Lewis, Labrador. Prior to Brittany’s involvement in the research project, participants were given cameras to take photographs of their experiences of intergenerational contact and were invited to share the meanings of those photographs with the research team.
Brittany’s involvement in the project included designing and creating a photobook that explained the purpose of the research project, highlighted key themes, and displayed participant’s photographs along with their messages. In October 2016, she flew to St. Lewis, Labrador with Dr. Gabel to host an art exhibit and community supper. The exhibit provided an opportunity for the community members to view the photographs and to reflect on the project results, and made the research results visible to policy makers including Indigenous leaders and provincial and federal politicians who attended the event. Brittany is grateful to have been given the opportunity to visit the community and speak firsthand with community members about their experiences.
After completing the IUSRS program, Brittany graduated with her Honours B.A. in Gerontology with a minor in Indigenous Studies from McMaster University. She then went on to graduate from the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program at McMaster University in 2020. For the past year, Brittany has been practicing clinically as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with the Child and Health team at Six Nations Health Services. In her role, she utilizes client centred practice principles and trauma-informed approaches to identify physical, psychosocial, cognitive, emotional, environmental, and occupational barriers for Six Nations children and youth between the ages of 0-18. Brittany works closely with the child, their families, other care providers, community agencies and schools to optimize functioning and success in all aspects of the child’s life.
Brittany is incredibly grateful to be working in her community and supporting youth because they are the leaders of tomorrow. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow as an Occupational Therapist so that she can provide her clients and their families with the best possible care. Brittany believes her future holds more opportunities for learning and personal growth, healing, and love.
“My experience in the IUSRS program opened up doors to incredible people and the opportunities that I never would have had otherwise. I am so grateful for this opportunity!” -Brittany
Piers (Kimiksana) Kreps (He/Him)
Piers is Inuit from Inuvialuit and participated in the IUSRS program in 2017. His supervisor was Katherine Minich who is also Inuit. The title of the project was: Piliriqatigiingniq in Practise: is Accountability to Inuit Land Claim Beneficiaries Hamonized? Within this project, they examined Inuit land claim annual reports to examine if the traditional value of Piliriqatgiingniq (collaboration) was expressed through delivery of social policy and programs for Inuit. Piers is currently working in government affairs for the Inuvaluit Regional Corporation on regional governance, self-government negotiations and intergovernmental policy formulation and implementation. He would like to continue his work in government and policy in the future. He believes that doing this work for his Indigenous government is very exciting and highly rewarding and perhaps someday he will pursue a doctorate degree.
“Indigenous research requires careful consideration of how you relate to both your work and your community through academic inquiry. The IUSRS program gave me an appreciation for the precarity of that balance.” -Piers
Heather O’Watch (she/her)
Heather is Nakota and Nehiyaw and participated in the 2020 IUSRS Program. Her supervisor was Dr. Gita Ljubicic and together they worked on a project that looked at online accessibility to Indigenous Health in Saskatchewan. This project had three research guiding questions:
What Indigenous focused health resources are available online from Saskatchewan First Nation perspectives? To what extent are there Indigenous focused health resources online? Are the resources community based, provincial or federal?
Some of the major takeaways were that online websites do not necessarily accurately measure communication. Health resources are not definitive and there is no current list online that is compiled of community websites or similar data in Saskatchewan. Currently, Heather is undergoing her Master of Public Policy at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy through the University of Saskatchewan campus. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Heather’s had to attend remotely, she is hoping to gain new skills and knowledge on building her research capacity in supporting Indigenous communities and policy. Heather also works at the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples, an Indigenous led organization that seeks to build transformative work within the Settler philanthropic sector in research work for the Morning Star Lodge, an Indigenous led community health research lab in Saskatchewan that works for and with communities in the province. Heather’s future holds the promise of active work in research throughout her career in policy and supporting Indigenous peoples and lands. Along a career, Heather would like to continue writing children’s books that reflect Indigenous kinship such as her recent award winning and recognized, “Auntie’s Rez Puppy”, which will be in publication coming 2022.
“The IUSRS program allowed me to gain confidence and passion all while building capacity in my research knowledge which I truly believe has prepared me for my Master’s program. I also have gained wonderful cohorts of Indigenous researchers alike from all over Canada which continue to help support one another beyond the IUSRS program.” -Heather
Natalie Kelly (she/her)
Natalie is from the Cayuga Nation and participated in both the 2020 and 2021 IUSRS Program. Her supervisor was Dr. Qiyin Fang. In 2020 the goal of their project was to evaluate if a new point-of-care diagnostic device would be applicable in Canadian remote Indigenous communities to diagnose Trichomoniasis. In 2021, Natalie and Dr. Fang expanded their 2020 research to all Indigenous communities in Canada for the use of diagnosing infectious diseases in general not just Trichomoniasis.
Currently Natalie is in her 4th year of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Guelph hoping to pursue a Master’s degree related to Biomechanics or Biosignals.
“The IUSRS provided a safe and welcoming environment that, for the first time, allowed me to both claim my heritage as an Indigenous person and also learn more about my culture, as well as provided me with so many resources about postgraduate studies and experiences in conducting research related to my field.” – Nathalie
Erdanya Anderson (she/her)
Erdanya is Mohawk, bear clan with family roots in Tyendinaga. She participated in the 2021 IUSRS Program. Her supervisor was Dr. Claudia Emerson. During Erdanya’s time working with Dr. Emerson, she examined the distinction between informed consent and community agreement models as they are used in gene drive projects for vector borne diseases. Currently, Erdanya is in her third year of her undergraduate studies at Western University, majoring in philosophy. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education by pursuing a graduate degree in bioethics.
“My IUSRS experience was reinvigorating and eye-opening. I saw the possibilities of community within academia and fell in love with learning again.” -Erdanya