Kelly Anne Butler's roles at Grenfell – staff member and instructor – give her a direct connection to the main theme of her research: how Indigenous people traverse colonial relationships.
"My broad focus is on Indigenous approaches to colonialism—in practical terms, how Indigenous people, either individually or as communities, navigate through systems and structures that are not ordered for them," said Ms. Butler, who is Grenfell's student affairs officer – Aboriginal affairs as well as an adjunct professor in Grenfell's humanities program. "I work with students and community members who often have to do that sort of navigating through university systems and structures."
Ms. Butler, a PhD candidate at the University of Saskatchewan, is examining how Indigenous peoples "counter or subvert the dominant narrative, creating their own space, both ideologically and physically." Her doctoral research examines through a study of multiple, overlapping, and competing discourses of the sacred around an ostensibly Catholic shrine in Guatemala, the Black Christ of Esquipulas.
Here at Grenfell, a course she teaches, Contemporary Indigenous Ideas: Personal Narrative, is a creative experiment in moving the "classroom" around to multiple communities as well as the university. The course meets one night a week, streaming simultaneously at multiple locations. The Mi'kmaw community of Flat Bay is a "community-partner classroom" for this course.
"This enables more people access to the university, and brings mainstream university students into conversation with Indigenous peoples and communities," said Ms. Butler.
In addition to her role at Grenfell, she is actively engaged with her own local Mi'kmaw community, working on committees such as the Bay St. George Mi'kmaq Cultural Revival Committee, which plans and executes the Bay St. George Powwow in Flat Bay each July.
"When people hear or read about the concept of 'Indigenization,' part of that process is to effect change within the institution rather than having Indigenous peoples making the accommodations," she said. "How much energy must be expended in these efforts when a person doesn't 'fit' into mainstream ways of being and knowing? Indigenization as a process, in part, attempts to shift the weight of that load to create a more accessible institution for all."
ABOUT FOR THE RECORD:
the semester we will highlight some of the interesting research taking
place at Grenfell Campus. The articles will appear here and will be
compiled on the research webpage.
Article prepared by Pamela Gill