Forays into Digital Scholarship as an Omushkegowuk Researcher

Forays into Digital Scholarship as an Omushkegowuk Researcher

Wachiya, my name is Marrissa Mathews, and I am Omushkegowuk Cree from Treaty 9 with familial ties through my mom to Weenusk First Nation and to Moose Cree First Nation through my father. I am also a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science here at McMaster. My dissertation research is twofold, and it is about urban Indigenous youth success in the Friendship Centre movement. It will have a comparative policy analysis of two federally funded urban Indigenous youth programs from the early 2000s: the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres and Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth. Full disclosure: I love Friendship Centres and they’ve played a strong role in my own personal and professional development. This work allows me to enact reciprocity and to give back to a movement that gave me so much.

My project for the Residency in Digital Scholarship is developing a website for the knowledge mobilization stage when all is said and done with the dissertation. I am following the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centre’s research framework called the USAI Framework. USAI stands for utility, self-voicing, access and inter-relationality. These ethical principles together ensure that research related to urban Indigenous peoples and Friendship Centres is useful, includes community voice, ensures the community has access to the work and speaks to the complexities of Indigeneity. The USAI Framework can also work as a way to check in at all stages from initial development to knowledge mobilization to ensure ethical reflection throughout the process. I felt that a website would support the ethical principles well in terms of accessibility of the findings and sharing the work when complete with the broader urban Indigenous communities out there. At this point, it feels like a cart before the horse scenario with the dissertation still in progress, but it is an important aspect to be considering at this point in the research as I know I am taking responsibility and taking great care with how this work will play out. I have my plan completed of what the website will look like, but it will be some time before it goes live.

I would like to speak now about the experience of the Residency in Digital Scholarship. It was invigorating and intellectually stimulating to hear about my fellow resident’s projects and all the different ways that Digital Scholarship can unfold. I love how Digital Scholarship is so vast and not tied to a single definition, and how could it be with the digital world and capabilities forever changing? The folks at the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship are incredibly passionate about digital scholarship, and their support and presentations throughout the residency were invaluable. I am most intrigued by digital storytelling and digital pedagogy possibilities, and the importance of managing data was a great reminder. Kinanâskomitin to Dr. Andrea Zeffiro, my fellow residents and the Sherman Centre folks for our time together!

There are endless possibilities in how Indigenous Studies research and Digital Scholarship can support one another. Despite the exciting possibilities, I have to continue to remind myself that I am not allowed to take on new projects until my dissertation is complete so as not to spread myself too thin! I am part of a few forays into digital scholarship at the moment. I am currently an educational research assistant with a Six Nations Polytechnic-led project in partnership with the Indigenous Institutes Consortium and eCampus Ontario on the development of two microcredential courses (Hyflex Design in Indigenous Teaching and Learning & Indigenous e-Learning assessments). I also work on another project led by Dr. Kelsey Leonard on Indigenous Voices in #Indigiscapes as part of the Digital Ecosystem Research Challenge. There is so much to consider in terms of ethical implications of the digital landscape and Indigenous issues, and we are starting to see more and more Indigenous scholars taking up this work which is so great to see! There is much to learn, but I am excited to continue to explore Digital Scholarship.

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