After completing a MSW at the University of Toronto I worked in the area of anti-violence and then in Indigenous communities on issues related to Canadian colonialism, including youth solvent abuse, high suicide rates, and family violence. A recurring experience that intrigued me while in Innu and Inuit communities of Labrador was the positive relation of health to being on the land, away from the community where the Catholic mission was situated. There was little discussion of this in my social work education, and thus I undertook a PhD in Environmental Studies that allowed me to consider the relation of land and climate to colonial histories, justice, and social health. These inquiries are represented in my books Climate, Culture, Change: Inuit and Western Dialogues with a Warming North (University of Ottawa Press, short-listed for 2012 Canada Prize in the Social Sciences), and more recent dialogues with the Haudenosaunee Good Mind tradition in A Canadian Climate of Mind: Passages from Fur to Energy and Beyond (McGill-Queens University Press, 2016).
From 2011 to 2015 I have researched and written the book A Canadian Climate of Mind that brings into dialogue the Haudenosaunee Good Mind tradition and Western interdisciplinary research as it pertains to healing an unjust climate of Indigenous-settler relations in Canada. Much of the book is grounded in public dialogues I had with the Mohawk teacher William Woodworth who was taught by Chief Jacob Thomas of Six Nations along the Grand River west of Lake Ontario. My research is centered around particular places along the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River corridor and what their historically changing relations tell us about what is needed to heal a history of violence imposed on the land’s Indigenous elders and the land itself. I came to these questions about the relation of land to health from my social work practice, but began researching them through a PhD in Environmental Studies. It has been interesting to follow the rise of Indigenous approaches to Social Work and Environmental Social Work over the past decade because of the way in which it mirrors my own experience. Many who advocate broadening social environments beyond the human, as predominates in the social work profession, have come to this view based on social work with Indigenous communities.
I would be happy to supervise students in any of my research interest areas. I have advised and/or supervised various PhD and Master's students in the area of Indigenous knowledge as it relates to environmental/social justice, including a PhD student who worked with an Anishnaabe-Cree elder on re-imagining social sustainability from the perspective of Medicine Circle ceremonies. My last two Master's supervisions were on pedagogical aspects of human-land relations, both of which had their papers nominated for an Outstanding Paper Series.
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