Since 2000 – a timeframe encompassing my doctoral, post-doctoral and junior faculty positions – I have been exploring and developing interest in the linkages to be made between anthropological theory and practice in applied urban Indigenous research. This trajectory has taken a variety of forms and drawn heavily on previous work I have conducted with urban Ainu communities in Japan, but in recent years I have focused on establishing the foundations for long-term, sustainable, community-driven research through models of participatory action research with Inuit people and organizations in Montreal and Ottawa. In my current role as Principal Investigator on a five-year SSHRC Insight funded project called ‘Out of Place in Nunalijjuaq: effecting social change with Montreal Inuit through participatory action research (PAR)’, I am engaging with community members, stakeholders and other research members in braided cycles of reflection-dialogue-action typical of PAR projects. The significant attention I am giving in this work to the analysis of policy alternatives and the dissemination of working policy documents to various levels of municipal, provincial and federal government affirms my commitment to a socially responsible and action-oriented role as an anthropologist in working with marginalized urban communities.
In general, I recognize myself to be an anthropologist committed to generating greater public awareness of the collective struggles of northern peoples in cities, particularly through the lens of ethnography and action research. This level of social and political engagement with Aboriginal peoples, institutions and organizations reflects my stance towards participatory research as a powerful base-building and organizing tool. Moreover, it highlights my innovation in project design and commitment to integrate knowledge mobilization into the research process itself. My privileging of visual methods, including photovoice and digital storytelling, as emerging Indigenous methodologies enables community partners and other stakeholders to fully participate in all stages of the process by sharing responsibility for conceptualizing, practising and bringing the research to bear on the lifeworld.
Since joining Concordia in 2008 I have purposefully incorporated these and other issues into my teaching practice by using the courses on Indigenous peoples I offer at the 200 and 400 levels to expose students to the relevance of the Arctic for the discussion of Indigenous peoples’ histories and politics internationally. At the same time, I have also developed two further research themes which complement my work on urban Indigenous affairs. To give a fuller picture of my research portfolio, I provide a brief discussion of each theme below.
Research Projects have been funded by: SSHRC (Insight grant), Killam Trusts, Japan Foundation, Royal Anthropological Institute, University of Alberta, Concordia University, McGill University