Thank you, Mike Lickers


The School of Leadership Studies would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. Mike Lickers who was on campus from January 26 to February 7, 2020. Dr. Lickers kindly agreed to support a pilot initiative and serve as the Indigenous Scholar in Residence for the MA in Leadership program’s winter cohorts. Dr. Lickers is a graduate of both the MA in Leadership and Training (MALT) program as well as RRU’s Doctor of Social Sciences. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor of Indigenous Relations at Suncor Energy in Alberta, and he also teaches in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies.

In his capacity as Indigenous Scholar in Residence, Dr. Lickers became an in-person member of both the first year and second year course delivery teams. He moved back and forth between year one and two cohorts to facilitate plenary workshops. He was also available to answer students’ questions or provide one-to-one support as needed. Dr. Lickers was in such high demand during lunch breaks and after hours that we could hardly keep up with the requests! We are deeply grateful for his commitment to making this a successful and supportive experience for all.

Under the guidance of the Heron People Circle and Indigenous Student Services, SoLS has been working to support RRU’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action as well as BC’s commitment to recognize and uphold the human rights of Indigenous people's through alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We acknowledge that this pilot initiative was one small step on our collective path toward reconciliation and that there is much learning and work ahead.

As some readers may know, in the MA in Leadership program in particular, we ask that students demonstrate leadership in their capstone project or thesis through an engaged and action-oriented approach to research. As such, throughout their coursework, students are introduced to a range of engagement methods and methodological traditions. Given the rich and growing body of scholarship related to Indigenous methodologies and decolonizing research (e.g., Archibald, Xiiem, Lee-Morgan, & De Santolo, 2019; Kovach, 2009; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999; Wilson, 2008), Dr. Lickers was able to introduce year two students to a taste of these Indigenous research approaches through his workshops. He also provided an incredible opportunity for students to learn specific details about and key events in Canada’s colonial history in a safe and participatory manner.

In SoLS we recognize that we are living and leading in extraordinary times. One of the challenges before us is to lead well — with humility, integrity, courage, and creativity — in this era of reconciliation, especially in this part of the world now called Canada. As such, we appreciate that all leaders are enriched by a deeper understanding of Indigenous approaches to research, engagement and leadership. We were indeed lucky to work in collaboration with a respected Mohawk leader and scholar for these two weeks on campus and beyond. Thank you, Mike, for your essential and exemplary work in this regard.

We look forward to seeing this Indigenous Scholar in Residence pilot project expand to other MA in Leadership cohorts over the coming year. Stay tuned for more stories that inspire change!



Archibald, J., Xiiem, Q., Lee-Morgan, J. B. J., & De Santolo, J. (Eds.). (2019). Decolonizing research: Indigenous storywork as methodology. London, UK: Zed Books.

Kovach, M. E. (2010). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. New York, NY: Zed Books.

Wilson, Shawn. (2009). Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods. Winnipeg, Canada: Fernwood.