Professor Profiles


Sharla Peltier, PhD, MEd, BSci

Assistant Professor


Elementary Education

About Me

I am from the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Ontario, a member of the Loon Clan, and hold a PhD Interdisciplinary Human Studies from Laurentian University.  I am an educator who shares Anishinaabe Teachings and educational approaches to honor diversity, the learner's special gifts, and to build knowledge of self-identity and self-in-relation to Aki (the Land) and each other.  I facilitate the honoring of the child's voice and language through the oral tradition and story. I have 25 years experience as a speech-language pathologist in public schools and First Nations education and health sectors.

My recently completed dissertation is entitled "Demonstrating Anishinaabe Storywork Circle Pedagogy: Creating Conceptual Space for Ecological Relational Knowledge in the Classroom" and is an exploration of Indigenous traditions of educational and cultural thought and experiences and the negotiation of space for Aboriginal perspectives within the school context.  I am a graduate of the Master of Education program of studies at Nipissing University.  My program of research in 2010 illustrated the pragmatics of First Nations storytelling as I investigated the oral tradition with Anishinabe children and Elders.   I have presented at national and international conferences and delivered numerous workshops for educators, professionals and community practitioners working with Aboriginal children, families and communities. My publications capture Indigenous ways of knowing, being, doing, and seeing gained from personal, research, and professional experience.

My teaching and research expertise is related to Indigenous ideologies in culture-based educational approaches, Indigenous research methodologies, and Aboriginal curriculum perspectives. I am experienced and knowledgeable in the areas of cultural Teachings and ceremonial practices and am an Anishinaabemowin-learner. My commitment to inter-cultural learning and Aboriginal student success is rooted in my belief that culture-based and land-based learning and applications of the Medicine Circle are central to improving relationships. 


Research Areas and Interests:
I possess 25 years of extensive experience within the education and health sectors in First Nations and urban contexts. I am very community-minded and my relationships within the Aboriginal community and professional milieu are well-developed and maintained. I have published works in the area of social sciences and education and am passionate about building knowledge of self-identity and self-in-relation to Aki and each other.

I am a strong advocate for an Indigenous research approach. Demonstrating Indigenous ways of knowing and the experiential process of coming to know centered in language and culture brings powerful change to the academy and society.  Narrative research methodologies and qualitative approaches are conducive to respectful relationships.

Research Projects:

My work in schools exposed me to educational inequities and the need for bridging between the home language and culture of Aboriginal children and academic literacy approaches. My 2010 Master of Education thesis, "Valuing Children's Storytelling From an Anishinaabe Orality Perspective", investigated the oral tradition with Anishinaabe children and Elders at Nipissing First Nation and illustrated the pragmatics of First Nations storytelling. This research project extended educators' knowledge outside of Euro-western literacy story formats to include culturally relevant features of a good story, in addition to facilitating the creation of space for storytelling in the classroom.

I recently earned a PhD in Human Studies at Laurentian University with interdisciplinary study in the areas of Aboriginal Education, Indigenous Philosophy, and Native Studies.  My dissertation entitled, "Demonstrating Anishinabe Storywork Circle Pedagogy: Creating Conceptual Space for Ecological Relational Knowledge in the Classroom" is a case study narrative inquiry utilizing an Indigenous research paradigm and critical Indigenous theory and methods.  This work honours the oral tradition in an Anishinaabe Story Circle process: a culture and land-based approach to exploring biophilia (the love of nature) and balanced relationships. The application of ecological systems theory stimulated educator praxis for social transformation and reconciliation by demonstrating the positive impacts of relationship-building and the creation of a kind, respectful and inclusive classroom environment to interrupt systemic hegemony and racism.

Current Research Awards:

  1. Enriching EDEL 335 with OARs (open-access resources): Bringing Foundational Knowledge about FNMI into Social Studies 
  2. Growing Faculty, Staff, and Student Foundational Knowledge of Indigenous Philosophies, Epistemologies, Ontologies, and Pedagogies
  3. Aboriginal Teacher Education Program Pre-Service Teacher Mentorship Project


Teaching Philosophy
I value a student-centred approach and learning process of inquiry. My lectures stimulate curiosity and personal connections to Indigenous history, culture, language and ways of coming to know and I model a process of inquiry that supports students to assume the role of researcher. I often share personal anecdotes to honour the Indigenous oral tradition and to create a welcoming learning environment for engagement and creation of relationships.  I believe in life-long learning and the power of story to unfold new understandings over time. I do not believe that as a Professor I hold all of the knowledge and answers.  I believe that every student is capable and each individual brings a wealth of cultural and experiential background to the classroom.  I enjoy learning from my students and I am committed to a classroom that offers a respectful, safe place for voicing ideas, critically examining common assumptions, and exploring controversial issues.  

Approaches to Teaching
Introducing relevant and authentic social media, videos, print and guest lecture resources and providing guidance to develop information and intercultural literacy, critical thinking and reading, and effective writing and communication skills are of key importance.  I provide time for student reflection and inquiry to develop independent learners.  Small group work enhances relationship-building and listening and I am sensitive to students who are in the process of finding their voice - especially Aboriginal students within a formal learning context.  Group discussions, individual research and presentations, and assignments that create/re-visit authentic community connections are essential in my teaching.  Inviting examination of current social issues stimulates student participation and passion to effect positive change in attitudes and serves to interrupt systemic racism.  My role as a leader in education means that I take responsibility to help colleagues, students, and community members understand that ‘we are all Treaty people’ and to take action for inclusion of Indigenous people in Canadian society and elimination of the academic gap through relationship.  Learning activities and assignments to engage learners in critical awareness of personal bias and acknowledgement of cultural traditions and values creates a respectful environment and effects action for social justice. 

Teaching Areas
Some of the university courses I have taught include:
•    Indigenous Ways of Learning, Faculty of Education Laurentian University (Sudbury Ontario) 2017
•    Introduction to Linguistics, Anthropology Department, Laurentian University 2015
•    Thinking Sociologically, Sociology Department, Laurentian University 2016

Some of the courses I am currently teaching at the University of Alberta include:

  • Social Studies (ATEP)
  • Contexts of Education
  • The Education of Native Peoples in Canada