Convocation Profile: David Parent

18 June 2021


Why did you choose to study Native Studies?

When I was applying for PhD programs the doctoral program had not yet been approved so I was originally going to do my PhD full-time in sociology. However, once the program was approved I decided that doing an Interdisciplinary degree had major benefits in terms of learning a wider breadth and depth of approaches to studying the Indigeneity as a set of social relations.  

Why did you choose to study at the University of Alberta?

I chose the University of Alberta mainly because I had such a great experience with my supervisor, Chris Andersen, during my MA and knew that I wanted to continue to learn from him. As well, Adam Gaudry had joined the Faculty during my MA and he’s someone I also really wanted to learn from. To be frank, there isn’t a better place in the world to get to learn the ropes of Metis research. As well, there were excellent folks in sociology, Sara Dorrow and Amy Kaler whose thinking on migration, race, and gender relations were relations that I wanted to consider in my research. As well, at the time, the U of A far exceeded any competing universities in terms of graduate student funding for Indigenous students. 

What was one of the most memorable experiences during your degree?

One of the most memorable experiences was when my cohort wrote our first comprehensive exams, a take-home exam that included 43,000 word essays on a sub-field of Indigenous studies. We would write for an hour and then take cortado breaks in order to keep us going. The other highlight for me was visiting Aotearoa and the University of Waikato in the summer of 2019 which coincided with NAISA. Spending two months in Aotearoa and getting to learn from incredible Māori scholars really helped me in analytically sharpening my dissertation research. 

What advice do you have for future Native Studies students?

Your research won’t change the world, but it might change a couple of peoples worlds, and that’s ok. Continue to be pushed by questions, and unsettled by answers. 

What does the future hold for you?

The future had already began for me in April 2019 when I was offered a tenure track position at the University of Manitoba in the departments of History and Indigenous Studies. However, beginning July 1 2021 I will officially start as an assistant professor. Over the next 6 years I hope to develop, in partnership with the Metis Archival Project, a twentieth century Metis lands database that Metis citizens can use to research their own family and community histories. I also hope to return to Aotearoa to do more research on comparative Indigeneity and settler colonialism.

David Parent convocates with an interdisciplinary PhD in Indigenous Studies and Sociology on June 25th.