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“I am personally dedicated to restoring the health and wellbeing of my community and strengthening my professional commitment to research and action for social transformation and justice.”

Seeking to connect urban Indigenous girls with land-based knowledge

Highlighting the research of prominent PhD student Tasha Spillett, who was recently put forward by the University of Saskatchewan to be nominated for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (SSHRC).

Tasha Spillett, is a PhD student in the College of Education's Cross-Departmental program, under the supervision of Dr. Alex Wilson. Her doctoral research seeks to identify best-practices in connecting Indigenous girls with land-based knowledge, particularly in urban settings. Spillett's research is grounded in Indigenous feminist theory and methodologies.  

Raised by her mother in Winnipeg, Spillett says that growing up she rarely saw her Indigenous identity reflected positively in society. 

"Growing up in Winnipeg, I seldom saw my identity reflected in positive ways outside of my home. It was only by connecting with the teachings of my traditional territory and forming a relationship with the land that fractures of my cultural identity and sense of self began to mend. Through my work in the field of Indigenous land-based education, I've pulled the pieces of myself and of my family history back together. For me, this so much more than an academic pursuit, and also beyond the remembering of traditions but represents the transformative work of re-membering self and community,” said Spillett.

The motivation behind Spillett’s research is to determine how land-based knowledge could offer an effective response to the historic and current violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls. 

Specific research objectives include:

  • documenting understandings of what is meant by “Indigenous land-based education”;
  • examining Indigenous land-based education programs in urban prairie province areas;
  • identifying best-practices in connecting Indigenous girls with land-based knowledge; and,
  • considering and employing Indigenous research methods, community-based participatory research methods and feminist methods

Spillett previously received her Master of Education degree in Indigenous Land-Based Education from the University of Saskatchewan College of Education. Her research proposal for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship was supported by Senator Murray Sinclair, the first Aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba and chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She is currently lecturing at both the University of Manitoba (Native Studies) and the University of Winnipeg (Faculty of Education), and expects to complete her dissertation in 2020.

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