Indigenous Women and Youth Resilience Project

Ribbon Skirt

About the Project

Indigenous women, youth, trans, and two-spirit are prolific scholars, students, poets, podcasters, actors, lawyers, filmmakers, doctors, artists, and more. Yet, they also experience some of the highest rates of violence and suicide (Statistics Canada, Homicide in Canada, 2014 and Government of Canada, Suicide Prevention Report, 2017). The Indigenous Women's Resilience Project combines Indigenous scholarly and community methodologies to explore the resiliency within these communities to mobilize those findings into the long-term research initiatives for Indigenous leaders, scholars, families, and communities to utilize. Along with our our research finding, this project is collecting databases which no longer have funding, to build an open-access digital research archive, dedicated to Indigenous women, youth, trans, and two-spirit resilience.

Building on the important work of organizations, community leaders, and families, this project gathers stories and knowledges from Indigenous peoples on the systems of resilience, as practiced by Indigenous women, youth, trans, and two-spirit. We study the tools of resiliency that are already present in the people and frame that resiliency as a method of empowerment to create change - in ourselves, in our communities and policies of government. We compile and map these knowledges to construct an Indigenous theory of resilience.

An Indigenous theory of resilience will shape our events and digital archive so that they may effectively serve the needs of diverse Indigenous communities, aiding the leaders and organizations that already work towards ending violence. The hope is that resilience research functions as one tool to address that violence.

To map an Indigenous theory of resilience, we seek Indigenous insight on the practices of resilience. Participation might include an online survey, hosting community meetings, and featuring the work of Indigenous artists, writers, and scholars. In addition to travelling to communities and research, the project is hosting workshops, a symposium, film festivals, and gathering providing a space for Indigenous peoples to discuss systems of resilience in their communities.

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Project Team

Tracy Bear

Tracy Bear is a Nehiyaw iskwêw (Cree woman) from Montreal Lake First Nation in northern Saskatchewan and the Director of the Indigenous Women's Resilience Project. She has a PhD in English and Film Studies and her dissertation: Power In My Blood: Corporeal Sovereignty Through a Praxis of Indigenous Eroticanalysis won the Governor General Gold Medal award in 2016. She is an Assistant Professor cross appointed with the Faculty of Native Studies and the Dept. of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Alberta. She was the Academic Lead and Professor of Record on the hugely successful Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called 'Indigenous Canada'. She is also involved with a Research-Creation Laboratory series project with Kim Tallbear and Kirsten Lindquist called Tipi Confessions. This project consists of a tri-annual series of erotically themed storytelling and performance based shows in Edmonton Vancouver, and Saskatoon. Tracy's work explores how Indigenous articulations of sensuality, sexuality and gender form erotic expressions, and act as decolonizing mechanisms and addresses the question, "If this is my body, where are my stories?" Tracy argues for the recovery and what she calls, the practice of an Indigenous eroticanalysis as a reclamation of sovereignty over our Indigenous bodies.

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Sara Howdle

Sara Howdle is a settler historian and the Coordinator of the Indigenous Women's Resilience Project at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Native Studies. In addition to this project, Sara is completing her doctorate in history from York University, Toronto. Her dissertation titled "'Buried with my own people:' Indigenous Women's Political History in Canada, 1968-1994" uses interviews and archival materials to investigate the development of the Indian Rights for Indian Women (IRIW) organization and the intellectual underpinnings that established its political platform. Finally, the dissertation places that political labour, and the IRIW's position on Indian status and Indigenous rights into the context of postwar Canadian history and natural resource development.

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