Indigenous scholars visiting RRU

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Shawn Wilson

For the past year or so a working group of faculty representatives from each School, supported by staff from the Centre for Teaching & Educational Technologies and Indigenous Education & Student Services, has begun work to review our existing curriculum to identify opportunities to decolonize content and learning contexts, introduce Indigenous perspectives and create contexts for Indigenous peoples and immigrant-descendants and immigrants to work together for positive change. We have been very aware of the need to engage with Indigenous scholars in this process, but until now have been challenged to find a way to make this happen.

As the new year begins that we are thrilled to share that we have met this challenge. Drs. Peggy, Stan and Shawn Wilson (Opaskwayak Nation) of Wassenas Counselling & Education will be joining us to support this work until the end of March, funded by a generous grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training.

Short biographies of the Wilson family are included below. Many will know of Shawn Wilson for his widely-referenced book titled, Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods, published in 2008. Shawn will be with us for about a week each month, but his parents Peggy and Stan will be staying here on campus. They are all arriving to start working with us on January 21st. 

You can expect to hear more about this exciting initiative over the coming weeks and months. If you have any questions or would like more information before you hear from us again, we would be pleased to hear from you –  please contact Roberta Mason, Associate Vice President, Student & Academic Services or Russ Johnston, assigned to this initiative for part of his time from his regular role as Indigenous Student Services Coordinator.

Wassenas Counselling & Education Team Members

Shawn Wilson, a member of the Opaskwayak Cree from northern Manitoba, received his B.Sc. (Microbiology / Zoology) from the University of Manitoba, followed by his M.A. (Community Psychology) from the University of Alaska and his Ph.D. (Social Sciences / Indigenous Studies) from Monash University in Australia. Shawn currently lives on Bundjalung land in eastern Australia. His book Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods is often cited for communicating the theories underlying Indigenous research methodologies to diverse audiences. Through working with Indigenous people internationally, Shawn has applied Indigenist philosophy within the contexts of Indigenous education, health and counselor education. In addition to further articulating Indigenous philosophies and research paradigms, his research focuses on the inter-related concepts of identity, health and healing, culture and wellbeing. His latest book Research is Reconciliation was released in 2019.

Peggy Wilson, B.Ed. (U of Saskatchewan), M.A., Ph.D. (University of California, Santa Barbara). Peggy is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. She has experience as a classroom teacher, high school administrator, curriculum writer and researcher on Aboriginal issues. She holds teaching credentials for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Dr. Wilson is a licensed associate clinical psychologist with the Psychological Association of Manitoba and conducts First Nations School counselor training throughout Canada. As a university professor she has conducted research and taught at Brandon University, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, California State University in Sacramento, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College in Regina and at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She was co-founder of the First Nations Graduate Education Program at the U of A. Dr. Wilson is actively involved in the development of qualitative evaluation and professional development processes for First Nations Schools and for mental health and well-being programs in Canada and the U.S. She was editor of The Canadian Journal of Native Education and adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan. In retirement she works on Indigenization and reconciliation.

Stan Wilson, B.A. (U of Saskatchewan), Ph.D. (University of California, Santa Barbara). Stan is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation where he spent his early years. He has experience teaching at all levels of education including primary, elementary and high school both in the public system and at the First Nations’ level. He has been a school board member, a member of the University of Winnipeg Board of Regents, a school principal, superintendent of education and a consultant to provincial Departments of Education in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. As a university professor, Stan has conducted research and taught at Brandon University, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, California State University in Sacramento, the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and at the University of Alberta. Stan works from within an Indigenous paradigm using what he refers to as Indigegogy, promoting and encouraging Aboriginal people, including students, to honour and utilize their own unique knowledge base. He was co-founder of the First Nations Graduate Education Program at the U of A and Dean of Education at the University College of the North. He is now working with a team of International Indigenous scholars to develop an international doctoral program. Stan is bilingual in Cree and English. He is currently an Adjunct Faculty member at both the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.