Focus on community-based research and teaching

Gabrielle Lindstrom, PhD, advancing Indigenous worldviews

Peter GlennMount Royal University | Posted: March 24, 2023


Featured researcher: Gabrielle Lindstrom, PhD
Department of Humanities

Dr. Gabrielle Lindstrom, PhD, conducts interdisciplinary research into health, social work and education, but it is her experience in the classroom that “shapes my research and my research shapes my teaching.”

As an assistant professor at MRU in Indigenous studies and a member of the Kainai Nation, Blackfoot Confederacy, Lindstrom received Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funding to investigate Indigenous/Blackfoot resilience and its connection to transformative pedagogy and transformative learning. Her main goal is building respectful, ethical intercultural relationships and focusing on reframing definitions that have been applied to or imposed on Indigenous people.

“I want to ensure that Indigenous perspectives and worldviews are advanced in a way that they are seen as accessible and not wildly different or irrelevant,” Lindstrom says.

Currently, Lindstrom is working to complete the final analysis and write up on that work and continues to engage in Indigenous-community research projects aimed at elevating Indigenous knowledge.

Teaching deeply informs Lindstrom’s research. She says her courses are challenging for her students and herself and that she learns “from dialogue, deep exploration of the topics and applying the learning to our everyday lives.”

“Without my teaching, my research program would look very different. In my job-talk for my current position, I stated that, ‘My teaching shapes my research and my research shapes my teaching — both go hand-in-hand with one another.’ Most importantly, I want to offer more opportunities for Indigenous students to get involved in research.”

Research on anti-Indigenous racism Lindstrom conducted for the Blood Tribe received a great deal of positive attention through media in southern Alberta and beyond.

“There is a long-standing history of anti-Indigenous racism in the Blood Tribe area. Several key incidents occurred where Blood Tribe members encountered racism, which led the Blood Tribe to access funding to address racism utilizing Indigenous research methodologies,” she explains.

Lindstrom was approached to design and lead the research and says her first priority was to ground the project within the Blackfoot definition of racism utilizing Blackfoot language. Carried out with the guidance of Elders, it was truly a community effort, especially in terms of the data collection.

“Indigenous-led community research ensures that the new knowledge is collectively held, that the needs of the community are centred, and, ultimately, that the research efforts will benefit Indigenous communities,” she says. “Indigenous community research is consistent with Indigenous priorities of self-determination and the sense of agency that is cultivated strengthens communities and breathes renewed life into our collective consciousness.”

Looking ahead, Lindstrom is developing a collaborative research project that is aimed at advancing collective understandings around reconciliation. The focus of the proposal is on developing a framework for "truthing" the history of Canada from an Indigenous perspective in ways that lead to collective empowerment and reconciliatory action.

“Indigenous scholars, elders and community members have reiterated that in order to move toward reconciliation, Canadians must sit with the truth of colonial harms that are historically rooted but reproduced in contemporary times.”

When she was named an Emerging Scholar for the MRU Research Recognition Awards in 2020, Lindstrom called it an honour that validated her approach and knowledge as a Blackfoot woman. “My knowledge matters to Western institutions and they see that Indigenous knowledge is something that we as a society can learn from,” Lindstrom said. “For me, it’s about ensuring that the collective knowledge that is held in my community is advanced in a respectful way.”

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