My primary research focus addresses the migration of northern peoples – specifically Inuit in northern Quebec and, in comparative context, Ainu in Japan – to urban centres. Drawing on over ten years of fieldwork experience on this subject, I am now principal investigator on a long-term SSHRC Insight project collaborating with Inuit leaders, organizations and community groups to help improve the socio-economic conditions of Inuit in Montreal. My lead role seeks to readdress the distinct lack of public understanding of Inuit migration to southern metropolitan centres and highlight its specific social and political contexts as well as impacts on northern communities in Nunavik (northern Quebec) and the three other Inuit land claims regions. The aim of the project is to bring stakeholders in the city together to help build a positive and sustainable movement for change through addressing the chronic absence and misdirection of services and social and cultural infrastructure for Inuit in Montreal. This work characterizes my broader interest in and engagement with the topic of urban migration and circumpolar peoples and previous contributions I have made to the field through research with Ainu migrants moving out of Hokkaido, northern Japan to Tokyo and other major cities.
To briefly elaborate here on my work in Japan, my long-term engagement with Indigenous Ainu living in and around Tokyo has concentrated on documenting and analyzing the emergence of a social and political Ainu movement in the city. Its focus on the challenges made by Ainu leaders and groups to the regionalization of Ainu policy measures to the northern island of Hokkaido, extends my argument to rethinking the image of geographical essentialism implicit to historical paradigms of Indigenous research.
Links of interest