An important step in Lyn Trudeau’s research investigating the impacts of residential schools on Indigenous communities was sipping a midnight cup of tea as she sat, wrapped in a blanket, by a fire in her backyard.
“I had to return to the land because those students were taken from the land,” recalls the Lecturer cross-appointed with Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology.
“I had to go out there and light that fire more for them than for me.”
Trudeau is from Sagamok Anishinawbek First Nation, Eagle Clan. In her 15 years as a scholar, she has researched a variety of topics alongside elders, Indigenous youth, Indigenous teacher candidates and residential school survivors, among others.
Trudeau’s scholarship involves knowledge and relationships that span from seven generations back to seven generations into the future.
Research is never done in isolation, she says; building and nurturing relationships, establishing trust and transparency, being sensitive to people’s contexts and longer-term follow-up are among keys to a successful, fruitful research process.
“We need to start honouring Indigenous ways of knowing and simply being in the world,” says Trudeau.
Indigenous ways of knowing and principles that guide Indigenous research are two of a variety of topics to be covered in an upcoming four-part set of workshops within Brock University’s Building Better Research (BBR) professional development series. Workshops take place online from noon to 1 p.m. on the following dates:
- Wednesday, Oct. 26: Robyn Bourgeois, Acting Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement, will explore critical topics regarding research with Indigenous communities in her presentation “So you want to do research with Indigenous Peoples? An introduction to wise practices.”
- Thursday, Dec. 1: The “First Nations Principles of OCAP Presentation” will focus on OCAP, which stands for “ownership, control, access and possession” to ensure First Nations have control over data collection processes, and that they own and control how this information can be used.
- Thursday, Feb. 9: “Introduction to Indigenous research grants” will offer details on how to apply for funding being offered by the Office of the Vice-President, Research.
- The fourth workshop is currently being organized. Please check the BBR web page for updates or contact Jayne Morrish, email@example.com or Nicole Nolan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bourgeois is a key organizer of the workshops as well as Brock’s Indigenous research grants.
“Research has a colonial history of extracting knowledge and doing harm to Indigenous communities,” she says. “This mini-series will provide critical support to researchers aiming to conduct respectful and reciprocal research with Indigenous Peoples. I hope this is the start of continuous learning for researchers eager to support Indigenous communities through research that is mutually beneficial.”
For her part, Trudeau is happy to see these upcoming workshops, which she says are one way of opening up wider conversations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers about principles and practices involved in Indigenous research.
She says how research is conducted and the impacts of that research are even more important than the subject matter itself.
“It’s about acknowledging our ways of knowing and gathering that knowledge, because it’s not necessarily through a questionnaire or a survey,” says Trudeau, adding that it’s also vital to be aware of “who you are as a researcher.”
Storytelling, modified sharing circles and using artwork to express ideas and feelings are some of the ways Trudeau approaches her research.