September 2018 Thesis Defences: Looking Out, Looking In

This September marked the culmination of two tremendous thesis projects by HARC researchers Katriona Auerbach and Melissa Johnson.  We are thrilled to now have Katriona onboard as a HARC Research Associate where she will continue working with the Northern Medical Program to provide future physicians with immersive experiences in Indigenous communities and on the land, and we wish Melissa every success as she begins her PhD on rhetorically pathologized bodies in the English Language and Literature program at the University of Waterloo. Please have a read of their thesis abstracts below. Congratulations, Melissa and Katriona!

Hunting, Healing and Human Land Relationships: A Reflective Inquiry into Health and Wellbeing explored through Indigenous Informed Hunting Practices, Land Relationships and Ways of Knowing

Katriona Auerbach

This research is based on the premise that strategies to address Indigenous well-being might well be best found within Indigenous teachings themselves.  More specifically, it seeks to explore the question:  How might human-land relationships, as developed through Indigenous-informed hunting practices and ways of knowing, facilitate health, healing, and well-being among North American Indigenous peoples?  The Interdisciplinary nature of this research merges concepts, theories and ideas from First Nations Studies, Anthropology, Health Sciences and Health Geography disciplines.  The thesis and accompanying website embrace land-engaged storying and an autoethnographic reflective exploration of health anchored in Indigenous-informed relationships with land, hunting practices and ways of knowing the world.  The research project engages a land-privileging, anti-colonizing, methodological approach that is embedded in relationship driven, spiritually accepting, and emotionally felt Indigenous epistemological ideologies.  As such, this inquiry is both explored and expressed through the lens of Indigenous-informed pedagogies of knowledge transition and dissemination.

Image: During this project, Katriona was honoured to have the opportunity to work with, and learn from, amazing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Holders from across BC and Alberta:  Mildred Martin (Dakelh Carrier), Arthur Dick (Mamalilikala), SherryLynne Jondreau (Anishinaabe), Bill Bertschy (Sliammon), Daisy Georgina Laing (Uchucklesaht), Ronald Desjarlais (O’Chiese), Yvonne Pierreroy (Dakelh Carrier) & Clarence George (Carrier).


Stories We Tell About “Others”: Pathologizing Discourses in Mainstream Media and Their Role as a Distal Determinant of Indigenous Peoples’ Health

Melissa Johnson

Indigenous peoples in Canada face significant health inequities in comparison to the non-Indigenous population. While the effects of historical and on-going colonialism are understood to contribute to these health disparities, the mechanisms by which pathologizing, racist, or colonial discourses contribute to the social environments underlying these health disparities remain under-examined. Using Foucauldian discourse analysis, this research investigates the role of Canadian print media in disseminating pathologizing discursive representations of Indigenous peoples. Focusing on columns, editorials, and letters to the editor printed in the Globe and Mail in 2008, this research analyzes mainstream media’s contribution to the discursive environment underlying racialized health inequities. This analytical process has identified multiple instances, both implicit and explicit, wherein pathologizing and stereotypical discourses about Indigenous peoples and communities are disseminated, legitimated, and perpetuated. These discourses ultimately function to maintain existing power imbalances and health inequities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.