Professor Profiles

Rebecca Cardinal Sockbeson

Rebecca Sockbeson, PhD

Associate Professor, Acting Coordinator, Indigenous Peoples Education Specialization


Educational Policy Studies

About Me

Dr. Rebecca Sockbeson is of the Penobscot Indian Nation, Indian Island, Maine, the Waponahki Confederacy of tribes located in Maine, United States and the Maritime provinces of Canada. She is the 8th child of the Elizabeth Sockbeson clan, the auntie of over 100 Waponahki & Stoney Sioux youth and the mother of three children who are also of the Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation of Alberta. A political activist and scholar, she graduated from Harvard University where she received her master’s degree in education. Rebecca worked for the University of Southern Maine for 7 years with racially and ethnically underrepresented populations. She went on to confer her PhD in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Alberta, specializing in Indigenous Peoples Education. Her research focus is Indigenous knowledge, Aboriginal healing through language and culture, anti-racism and decolonization. Her doctoral study, Cipenuk Red Hope: Weaving Policy Toward Decolonization & Beyond, engages with how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can inform policy development.Her doctoral study engaged with how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can inform policy development. She currently serves as Associate Professor for the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Peoples Education Program. In 2013, she and her Indigenous colleagues received a University of Alberta Human Rights Teaching Award for her role in coordinating and teaching Alberta’s first compulsory course in Aboriginal education, EDU 211: Aboriginal Education & the Context for Professional Development. Her research has been published or is forthcoming in several journals and anthologies, including, Alberta Journal of Educational Research; American Indian Culture and Research Journal; Canadian Journal of Native Education; Cultural and Pedagogical InquiryAgainst Colonization and Rural Dispossession: Local Resistance in South and East Asia, the Pacific and Africa; and Postcolonial Directions in Education. Dr. Sockbeson's poem, “Hear me in this concrete beating on my drum,” was a winning entry in the Word on the Street Poetry Project in 2018 and is sandblasted on a downtown Edmonton sidewalk as part of a permanent public art installation.


  • Indigenous Peoples Education
  • Indigenous knowledge 
  • Aboriginal healing through language and culture
  • Anti-racism and decolonization
  • Racially and ethnically underrepresented populations
  • Indigenous ways of knowing and being informing policy development


  • Indigenous Knowledge Mobilization: A Purposeful Collaboration Between Indigenous Communities and Higher Education (2018). Principal Investigator, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Office of the Vice-President for Research, University of Alberta. Amount: $147,217 
  • Compulsory Aboriginal Education Coursework Toward a Revised TQS Compliance & Implementation (2018). Principal Investigator, Alberta Education, Office of the Vice-President for Research, University of Alberta. Amount: $150,000
  • Institutionalizing Reconciliation; Systemic Knowledge Mobilization & Indigenous Knowledge Transfer (2016). Principal Investigator, Grant Assist Program Bridge Funding for SSHRC Insight Grant, Office of the Vice-President for Research, University of Alberta. Amount: $5,000
  • Indigenous Knowledge Mobilization (2016). Principal Investigator, Expanding Inclusiveness in the Academy: Indigenous Community Engagement, Research, and Learning: FGSR, University of Alberta. Amount: $50,000
  • Institutionalizing Reconciliation: Teacher Preparation & Aboriginal Education Courses (2014-2015). Principal Investigator, University of Alberta Endowment Fund for the Future: Support for the Advancement of Scholarship (EFF: SAS) grant, University of Alberta. Amount: $8,500, maximum amount 2014-2015
  • Indigenous Knowledge Mobilization (2011-2013). Principal Investigator, University of Alberta, Faculty of Education Office of the Dean, Faculty Research Start up Grant. Amount: $5,000 
  • Uplifting the Whole People Through Constructing an Intellectual Space that Engages Indigenous & Western Epistemologies (2012). Office of the Provost Innovation in Education Grant, University of Alberta. Amount: $130,000  


  • Sockbeson, R (2018). Indigenous Knowledge Mobilization, Political Will & Red Hope - Indigenizing the Curriculum: Putting the “Native” into Native American Content Instruction Mandates: panel discussion. Presentation at the NAISA Indigenous Education Pre-Conference, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2016). A Call for Honoured & Thriving for Aboriginal Women. Presentation at University of Maine, Canadian Studies & Women Studies, Orono, ME.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2016). Indigenous Research Methodology: Gluskabe Challenges Epistemicide. Presentation at Educational Research Methodologies seminar for Educational Policy Studies. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB. 
  • Ranco, D., Sockbeson, R., & Tayac, G. (2016). Decolonizing the Chalkboard: Bringing Native American Narratives and Methodologies into the Classroom and Lecture Hall. Proceedings from: From Doctrine to Declaration: Rescinding the Christian Doctrine of Discovery and Promoting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States (pp. 19-22). Fife, Scotland: University of St Andrews.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2015). Institutionalizing Reconciliation & Mobilizing Indigenous knowledge: Indigenous research within the research. Presentation at the 5th Annual International Indigenous Scholars Conference. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2014). First Nations funding gaps and educational policy implications. Presentation at the World Indigenous People’s Education Conference. Kapiʻolani Community College, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2014). Aboriginal education & the context for professional development. Presented at the National Annual Indigenous Teacher Education Symposium. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2013). Epistemicide & making sense of socio-economic distress. Presented at Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) 10th Annual Conference. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
  • Sockbeson, R. (2011). Connection to land, territory & the Longest Walk. Opening presentation at the Developing Indigenous Land Based Curriculum Conference, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK. 


  • Wabanaki REACH: 2012-Present. A collaboration between the University of Southern Maine and the Wabanaki tribes that addresses truth and reconciliation efforts. Dr. Sockbeson serves as an academic advisor in support of their mandate: a cross-cultural collaborative; promotes best child welfare practice reconciliation, engagement, advocacy; change and healing activities for and between Wabanaki and Maine citizens, communities and governments.
  • Treaty 6 Urban Aboriginal Community Advocacy: 2011-Present. Dr. Sockbeson serves as a community advocate for Aboriginal families/individuals in situations requiring the translation/interpretations of the justice, education, health and child welfare systems.
  • Healing through Language & Culture: 2006-2011. Community University Research Alliance (CURA) Research with Aboriginal People of North Western Canada, Research Assistant, University of Alberta.
  • Harvard Maine Program for Children Project: 1997. Research Assistant, Harvard University
  • University of Southern Maine: 1993. Primary researcher and co-author of Penobscot Elder’s oral history project, today over 90% of the Elders have passed on; co-author of accompanying article, University of Southern Maine Social Work Department.



  • University of Alberta – Provost Office: Provost Steering Committee for the TRC Building Reconciliation, University of Alberta hosted national event in September 2016.

Faculty of Education 

  • Indigenous Education Council: Feb. 2011- present. Under the authority of the Dean of the Faculty of Education, the Indigenous Education Council provides leadership and advice to the Dean and Faculty in the development of policies and implementation of Faculty of Education program initiatives that are specifically designed to improve the outcomes of education for Aboriginal students at all levels of schooling, including early childhood and post-secondary education.
  • Faculty Advisor: 2013-present. Graduate Student Association: Indigenous Students Strengthening Treaty Relationships Through Indigenous Knowledge & Education (ISSTRIKE).
  • Cultural Advisor: 2007-present. As a traditional singer from her tribal community, Dr. Sockbeson is often called upon to open, welcome and honour various events held within the department and faculty.  
  • Aboriginal Ad Hoc Committee:  2012-13. Advisory to the dean on issues of Aboriginal Education.

Department of Educational Policy Studies

  • Scholarship & Awards Committee: 2015-2016. Included mentoring of Indigenous graduate students which generated $210,000 in funding for their programs 
  • IPE Graduate Annual Retreat Coordinator:  2011-2015
  • EDU 211 Administrative Coordinator Search Committee: 2013
  • Social Committee: 2012-2013

Conference Planning

  • Indigenous Scholars Conference Planning Committee: 2014-2015. Hosted by Indigenous Peoples Education, formerly First Nations Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta.

Reviewer Work & Reports

  • Reviewer for a SSHRC Insight Grant: 2016.
  • Indigenous Education Council Summary: 2014-2015. Reviewer of the draft Teaching Quality Standards and School Leadership Standards for Alberta Education. University of Alberta: Sockbeson, R., Weber-Pillwax, C. *Note: This report was unanimously endorsed by the Alberta Deans Association to be recommended for consideration to the Ministry of Education for implementation in provincial education legislation.
  • Reviewer Canadian Journal of Native Education: 2012-14.


  • Alexis First Nation Education Board: 2008-Present. Major duties include reviewer & editor for annual school report to Chief & Council; lead negotiator for provincial tuition agreement.
  • Penobscot Health Services Community: 2010-Present. Maternal Health Advisor. Dr. Sockbeson has advised numerous graduate students who are new mothers in their efforts to nurse their babies, which has supported their academic retention. 
  • Seven Eagles Board of Directors, Maine: 2007-Present.
  • Penobscot Nation Task Force on Language Revitalization, Maine: 2010.
  • Penobscot Nation Higher Education Committee, Maine: 1999-2008.
  • Waponahki Studies Commission: Maine 2001-2005. Dr. Sockbeson was appointed by the Chief of the Penobscot Nation to develop curricular expectations for Wabanaki Studies legislation expecting teachers to teach Waponahki history and culture in K-12 classes.
  • University of Southern Maine (USM) Provost Search Committee: 1998-2004.
  • USM Standing Committee for Campus Climate, Civility and Diversity, Advisory to the President: 1998-2004.
  • Maine State Commission on Gender Equity in Education: 2004.



EDPS 501: Mobilizing Indigenous Knowledge

EDPS 506: Contextualizing Epistemology in Higher Education (Independent Study)  

EDPS 535: Indigenous Research Methodology

EDPS 537: Issues in First Nations Education 

EDPS 538: From Oral Traditions to Written Text 

EDPS 539: Revitalizing Indigenous Language 

EDPS 575:  Indigenous Knowledge and Anti-Racist Education

EDPS 606: Indigenous Research Methodologies & Indigenous Knowledge Transfer (Independent Study)

EDPS 606: Indigenous Pedagogical Approaches in the School System (Independent Study)

EDPS 900: Course-based Master’s Capping Exercise 


EDU 211: Aboriginal Education and the Context for Professional and Personal Engagement 

EDPS 432: The Education of Native Peoples in Canada: A Historical Study 

EDPS 474: Contemporary Issues in Native Education 


EDPS 581: Introduction to Evaluating Educational Research

EDPS 681: Research Frameworks and Qualitative Methodologies

EDPS 310: Managing the Learning Environment

EDEL 660: Advanced Research in Education