Who Are We?
Darren Thomas, Research Coordinator
Darren Thomas is a member of the Seneca Nation; he is a Bear Clan and he currently resides at the Grand River Territory of the Hodinohso:ni. Darren currently is pursuing his PhD in community psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. His research has focused on First Nations community development, Indigenous research methodologies, suicide prevention and colonial trauma. Darren specializes in working with First Nations peoples, inspiring them to be proud of their heritage and take a rightful place in modern society. Darren has over twenty years of experience working in radio, education, addiction and community development.
Joel Badali, Masters Student
Joel is in his first year of a Masters in Community Psychology at WLU. His interests are in the area of building Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations, moving toward transformative justice
Eugenia Edwards, Research Assistant
Gena (Kwiks Tina7) is from Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation in the St’at’imc Tribe in Lillooet BC. Gena carries her Great Grandma Celestine (Mama) native name Tina7. Gena comes from a blood line of first recorded chiefs since the Indian Act was implemented in BC 1864, Chief Thomas Adolph from Xa’xlip was her Great Great Grandfather and Edward Towspoolah was her Great Great Great Grandfather. Her Papa Chief Victor Adolph was a Grand Chief and both her parents Sharon and Eugene were in politics. Gena’s has two brothers Ivan and Bruce and one sister Kenda. Gena is a mother of two beautiful children Darian and Taylor. Gena’s partner Lorne supports her in all aspects of her learning and her passion of research. Gena is in the Master’s of Social Work Advanced Standing Aboriginal Field of Study program at Wilfrid Laurier University. Some of Gena’s prior research include Ts’kw’aylaxw’s Traditional Use Study (TUS) for the treaty process, Lillooet Law Society – traditional family law, St’at’imc Tribal Council – Pictograph research. Gena was also a part of a First Nations National Child Welfare research – how front line workers acknowledge aboriginal identity. In Gena’s spare time she does genealogy research. Gena graduated high school from Lillooet Seconadry School and Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) form Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC. After working some years on the front lines of Child Welfare she came back to school to attain her MSW.
Brooke Fry, Research Assistant
Brooke Fry is a recent graduate of the Honors Psychology Research Specialist Program at WLU. In addition to her affiliation with the IHSJ group, she has also worked as a research assistant for the Centre for Community Based Research Learning and Action and the Equity, Sexual Health and HIV Research Group. She completed her Undergraduate Honors thesis, under the supervision of Dr. Terry Mitchell, entitled "Toward Co-existence: Exploring the difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives on land", which is currently under consideration for publication. She presented the findings and themes of this study at the Undergraduate Thesis conference at Wilfrid Laurier University (March 2012), the Undergraduate Thesis conference at York University (April 2012), and the Community Psychology Conference at Wilfrid Laurier University; which included the co-faciliation of a workshop entitled "Unsettling the Settlers" (May 2012). Her research interests include Indigenous and Settler relations, Indigenous governance, empowerment and depowerment and the role of Settler allies to Indigenous peoples.
Sheri Longboard, Research Assistant
Sheri Longboat is a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her dissertation addresses the challenges to First Nations water security in Canada by investigating the interrelationships between First Nations and Western approaches to water, and the opportunities and barriers to collaboration in water governance. Her research employs a multi-level analysis framework and draws upon conceptual underpinnings from water security, integrated water resource management, Indigenous approaches, institutions theory, and collaboration literatures. Prior to her current pursuits, Sheri worked with First Nations in geomatics (GIS and GPS) implementation to support community-driven land and resource management which included historical, traditional use and values mapping, and knowledge exchange through community-based education and training. She also held a ten year position on the federal government’s GeoConnections Management Board, and for five years chaired the program’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Sheri holds an honours BES from the University of Waterloo, MA from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a BEd from Brock University. Her research interests lie in water resources, collaborative governance, Indigenous approaches, and issues of concern for First Nations.
Jackson Smith, Research Assistant
Jackson Smith is currently in the third year of his undergraduate degree at WLU, studying a double major in Global Studies and Psychology, with a research specialization in Psychology.
During his university career thus far, he has taken courses in both Global Studies and Psychology that have opened his eyes to the many forms of injustice that occur in societies. The contributions of these classes in addition to personal experiences have instilled in him an interest in the psychological, social, and cultural impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples; the psychological, social, and cultural impacts of neo-colonialism, actualized through various means such as international development and voluntourism; and how neo-liberal policy encumbers the health and well being of marginalized people. As an extension of this, it is important to him to contribute to the empowerment of indigenous peoples and offer support in their struggles for self-determination, self-governance, and access to human rights. Other avenues of research that he is interested in include the prevention of substance abuse and child sexual abuse.
Jackson is currently working on a human rights framework, as well as media analyses around events of import for Canadian Indigenous peoples (such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology in June 2008, and when Canada signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Key passions of his include: reading and writing fantasy and science-fiction, playing guitar and singing, and cooking. Additionally, he is a research assistant with a research group looking at societal attitudes toward people living in poverty, a member of the Coalition for University and Education Reform (CUER) at WLU, and volunteer for the weekly lunches at the Laurier Aboriginal Student Support Centre.
Melissa St. Germaine-Small, Research Assistant
Melissa St. Germaine-Small proudly identifies as an Anishinaabe Kwe (Chippewas of Rama First Nation), feminist and member of the urban Aboriginal community in the Niagara region. She has had a long history of involvement as a volunteer and board member with various women’s and health services organizations. A graduate of Brock University’s interdisciplinary MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies, Melissa continues her research focus on social justice and health issues for Aboriginal women, as well as continuing work in feminist theory, methodology and pedagogy.
Working under the supervision of Dr. Terry Mitchell, Melissa is currently completing her PhD in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her dissertation is entitled “It’s the journey and the destination: Exploring Aboriginal women’s conceptions of health and social justice”.
Her personal philosophy:
The belief that individual actions can have much greater effects than we realize, leads her to consider my actions as part of a much larger ‘whole’. She attempts to practice an ethic of respect and to live reflectively. Optimism, a sense of humour and empathy are important qualities to her and she endeavors to maintain these throughout the various environments that she is involved in. In keeping with her ethics and values, Melissa hopes to use her education to actively benefit First Nations peoples, recognizing that a combination of shared community involvement and scholarly research are key elements in addressing issues of social justice.
Robert St. Pierre, Research Assistant
Robert St. Pierre is a fourth-year Global Studies student at Wilfrid Laurier University. After having spent a month in Chile on a field course for university, studying in amongst Mapuche indigenous communities in the regions of Bio-Bio and Araucania, Robert began to see indigenous issues differently. Coming back to Canada, he had a determination to apply what he had learned from his experience in Chile in the Canadian context, as well as to learn the contextual difference of aboriginal peoples living in Canada, both politically and culturally. A chance to join and contribute to the Indigenous Health and Social Justice Research Group offered him just that.