University of Saskatchewan

September 16, 2014   

Aboriginal Research

Saskatchewan is home to the highest proportion of Aboriginal people of any province in Canada. The University aims to be a national centre of excellence in research directly related to Aboriginal Peoples, and has growing strength in areas related to social justice, health, education, administration and business. .

U of S researchers, scholars, and artists work to understand our histories and cultures, and develop the knowledge and understanding to take us into a shared and equitable future.

For instance, five U of S researchers have been awarded a total of almost $480,000 from the federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to lead five new Aboriginal research projects in areas including literacy, urban identity, and the teaching of life skills to children and youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. See news release at:

Centres of study include:

  • Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew
    Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew
    The Native Law Centre of Canada on campus is a focal point for study of legal issues affecting Aboriginal people, including land claims, treaties, self-governance, and alternative legal options such as sentencing circles.

  • The Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC) is a shared initiative of the University of Regina, the First Nations University of Canada, and the University of Saskatchewan. The Centre is devoted to research in areas such as chronic diseases, appropriate delivery of health services and prevention measures. Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew is the Centre’s director. Caroline Tait, on secondment to the IPHRC from the department of women’s and gender studies, is using a CIHR grant to study Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) prevention in northern Saskatchewan. Tait, an expert on Canadian and American public health responses to substance abuse by pregnant women, is a board member of the Canada Northwest FASD Research Network set up by western provincial and territorial governments.

  • Jim Miller, Canada Research
    Chair in Native-Newcomer Relations
    Jim Miller, Canada Research Chair in Native-Newcomer Relations
    The U of S history department is renowned for research in the history of Native-newcomer relations in Canada, with particular attention to treaties and to government and church policies. Jim Miller, a Canada Research Chair, has produced the first comprehensive study of the history of native residential schooling in Canada. Keith Carlson studies how Aboriginal societies acquire and uses historical knowledge, work that may help treaty negotiations between the government and British Columbia's First Nations.

  • The Aboriginal Education Research Centre in the College of Education partners with First Nations, professional groups, faculty and students to promote Aboriginal education as well as building research capacity and improving teaching on Aboriginal issues . The Centre is the first in Canada devoted to conducting ethical and appropriate research with First Nations and Métis communities. This approach is designed to help scholars and faculty at the College find a new foundation for curriculum and instruction for the next generations of Aboriginal students, while building upon and celebrating successes

  • The native studies department in the College of Arts and Science offers a program that affirms the value and dignity of Aboriginal societies: their histories, languages, philosophies and oral and literary traditions, as well as their traditional institutions and lifestyles.

  • The U of S archeology department stands alone in Western Canada for its strong focus on northern plains and boreal forest archeology. The department has a long history of work done with First Nations communities on heritage-related matters. Wanuskewin Heritage Park just north of Saskatoon is a product of this continuing partnership.

People and Achievements include:

  • Marie Battiste, 2004 Distinguished Researcher Award
    Marie Battiste, 2004 Distinguished Researcher Award
    Three of the University’s 28 Canada Research Chairs specialize in Aboriginal studies: Jim Miller (Native-Newcomer Relations), Sylvia Abonyi (Aboriginal Health), and Evelyn Peters (Identity and Diversity: the Aboriginal Experience).

  • U of S medical anthropologist James Waldram has been named a 2005 Champion of Mental Health by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) for his work in understanding Aboriginal mental health. The award recognizes Waldram’s research and publications in the area of Aboriginal health and his significant contributions to the understanding of culture in psychiatry, psychology, and anthropology.

  • Marie Battiste, a Mi'kmaq educator originally from the Potlo'tek First Nations in Nova Scotia, became the University’s first female and first Aboriginal person to receive the Distinguished Researcher Award in 2004. A professor in the College of Education, she holds degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities, and works to advance Aboriginal education and research.

  • U of S Aboriginal
      graduate student and film director, Tasha Hubbard
    U of S Aboriginal graduate student and film director, Tasha Hubbard
    Aboriginal graduate student and film director Tasha Hubbard won the prestigious Canada Award at the 2005 Geminis for her documentary “Two Worlds Colliding,” which chronicles Saskatoon’s infamous “freezing deaths,” and the racial divide between the Aboriginal community and the police force. 

  • Métis graduate student Matthew Dunn was recognized in 2003 with a national Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Aboriginal community’s highest honour. The mechanical engineering student has earned numerous scholarships, received academic and citizenship awards, and proven himself as an accomplished actor, athlete, and community volunteer.