Congratulations to Bonnie McElhinny recipient of an IRCRC Grant from SSHRC

We are delighted to announce that Nancy Rowe, Dr. Debby Danard, and Dr. Bonnie McElhinny are the recipients of an Indigenous Research Capacity and Reconciliation Connection (IRCRC) Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, for a project entitled “13 moon Journey and Water Gathering” (a description follows).

IRCRC grants affirm the important, holistic and interdisciplinary contributions to human knowledge that Indigenous knowledge systems make. Furthermore, the call respects Indigenous knowledge systems, including ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies, as important avenues for exploring the contours of Indigenous knowledge, supporting Indigenous research paradigms, contributing to interdisciplinary collaboration and extending the boundaries of knowledge in western research paradigms.

This funding will support community gatherings, workshops, or other events or outreach activities that will mobilize existing knowledge, facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing, and result in the preparation of a position paper. The position papers will be shared at a national dialogue event scheduled for March 2019 to develop, in partnership with Indigenous communities, a strategic plan for an interdisciplinary Indigenous research and research training model that contributes to reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

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Project Summary:  Thirteen Moon Journey and Water Gathering

The Thirteen-Moon journey or annual cycle of the Aanishinaabek is widely known within Aanishinaabek communities.  It is a model that mirrors and uses the natural environment to assist in an understanding of how we are governed by and connected to Skaagaamik-Kwe (Mother Earth). Before the western calendar widely used today, the Aanishinaabek depended on the annual cycle of Creation, to observe and determine time.  The traditional Aanishinaabek year follows the thirteen-moon lunar cycle. Each moon is named for a natural phenomenon – the activity of a seasonally active animal, an important cultural practice or belief, or a prevalent environmental condition.  For example, Mnoomin Giizis (wild rice moon) is when wild rice is harvested, but also a time for reflecting on meanings and histories of wild rice.

The Caribbean scholar Sylvia Wynter argues that decolonization requires changing the way that people understand space, and time, and what it means to act in a good way or be a good person. This means that we change how we understand land and water and territory, that we change notions of progress and seasonal cycles, and that we elaborate a model of what it means to be a good person that is not linked to the competitive individual of settler colonialism and capitalism, or the humiliated or abject victim of colonialism. This project, the 13 moons project, is built precisely around these premises. Each month, Nancy Rowe, and Deb Danard, the project directors, will invite respected Elders or traditional Practitioners to offer the appropriate teachings linked to that month at Akinomaagaye Gammik:  House of Learning, a lodge which provides an appropriate environment and atmosphere for Indigenous Knowledge Carriers to teach the Mississaugas of New Credit and surrounding Indigenous communities. Simpson notes that “Building diverse, nation-culture-based resurgence means significantly re-investing in our own ways of being:  re-generating our political and intellectual traditions; articulating and living our legal systems; language learning; ceremonial and spiritual pursuits; creating and using our artistic and performance-based traditions (2011:18). This project builds on the success of an earlier, partial 13 moon journey project which was funded for 6 moons (by the Indigenous Cultural Fund, Ontario Arts Council, also held by Danard, Rowe, McElhinny) but proposes to elaborate it in two ways. First, it proposes to travel through a full 13 moon cycle, using ceremony for participants as a strategy for researching the 13 moon and related teachings; second, it proposes to investigate a set of community capacity-building skills each month that is directed, influenced and supported through the teachings of that month; third, Dr. Debby Danard will develop Indigenous forms of evaluation, and fourth Nancy Rowe  will  develop appropriate forms of  curriculum. This curriculum can be further developed to be scalable and replicable by other appropriate traditional practitioners. The project will conclude with a water gathering on the Credit River in July 2019 which reconvenes elders and traditional knowledge practitioners who have participated in the various moon teachings, to consider next steps in building a Grandmother’s Council which can consider how to share the teachings of the 13 moons with Indigenous people and allies, and build a broader circle of women and girls familiar with the teachings, in a good way.

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Giidaakunadaad (The Spirit who lives in high places), Nancy Rowe is a Mississauga, Ojibwe of the Anishinaabek Nation located at New Credit First Nation, ON. Nancy holds an honours BA in Indigenous Studies and Political Science, and is currently completing a master’s degree in Environmental Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo, with the support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council: Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.  She is an educator, consultant, and a Traditional Practitioner of Anishinaabek lifeways, views and customary practices. Nancy has also received a number of other scholarships and fellowships, including the Stella Kinoshameg Award: Outstanding Native Studies Scholarship, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, Harvey Longboat Memorial Scholarship:  Overall Highest Average at Six Nations Polytechnic.  She founded and coordinates Akinoomaagaye Gaamik, a grassroots initiative to provide educational opportunities for all people interested in Indigenous perspectives on life, health, education, history and the environment. She has co-authored several publications, including: McCarthy, D. D. P., Millen, M., Boyden, M., Alexiuk, E., Whitelaw, G. S., Viswanathan, L., Larkman, D., Rowe, G., and Westley, F. R. (2014). A First Nations-led social innovation: a moose, a gold mining company, and a policy window. Ecology and Society. She works on a collaborative project In Our Words Video Series @ http://fnmieao.com/resources/in-our-words.php, which produces  videos which explore how the dispossession of land from Indigenous Peoples took place throughout what is now called Canada. These videos provide several perspectives through the personal narratives of Oneida and Anishinaabe Elders and recognized Knowledge Holders.

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Dr. Debby Danard is Anishinaabekwe, sturgeon clan, born in Atikokan Ontario and member of Manitou Rapids, Rainy River First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. She is a traditional knowledge keeper, artist, lecturer, water ambassador, Life promotion activist and Eagle staff ogitch-e-daakwe. She has a Ph.D. in Aboriginal & Indigenous studies in education from the University of Toronto (2016). Her thesis work “Medicine Wheel Surviving Suicide-Strengthening Life Bundle” (2016) focuses on traditional knowledge as a way tried and true (evidence informed practice) to mobilize life promotion community bundles.  She has been actively involved working with and within primarily First Nations urban (Friendship Centres, MNO, COO) and several on-reserve communities since 1987.  She is the author of “Be the Water” (Canadian Woman Studies, 2013).  She held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, and is the owner of Union Star Consulting Life Teachings Lodge.  She has completed numerous reports on good governance, life promotion and water teachings for Temagami First Nation, Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, Chiefs of Ontario, and the Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle.

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Dr. Bonnie McElhinny is of Irish, Slavic, German, French and English ancestry.  She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University in linguistics.  She is the Principal of New College, at the University of Toronto.  She is associate professor of women and gender studies and anthropology, and former Director of Women and Gender Studies.  She currently has an ATLAS (Advanced Teaching and Learning in the Arts and Science) grant to focus on decolonial approaches to land-based pedagogy, with a focus on water.  She directs Great Lakes Waterwork/Water Allies @ New College, with the support of a Faculty of Arts and Science Teaching and Learning Grant.  This initiative focuses on decolonial, feminist, queer and anti-racist approaches to environmental justice, with a focus on water.  Projects include designing and re-designing a cluster of courses on the Great Lakes, research and teaching collaborations with community partners, designing experiential learning opportunities for students, and curating public events. Her books include Words, Worlds and Material GirlsFilipinos in Canada (edited with Roland Coloma, Ethel Tungohan, J.P. Catungal and Lisa Davidson) and, most recently, Language, Capitalism, Colonialism:  Toward a Critical History (with Monica Heller, published by University of Toronto Press in 2017).   She teaches courses on water and social justice, unsettling settler colonialism, language and political economy, research methods, and experiential approaches to land-based education (most recently, a birchbark canoe build with canoe builder Mike Ormsby and Wahnipitae First Nation).