On restoring relationships with the land
I’ve come into this place [academia] where I am asked to speak about big concepts and share research, but really what we’re doing is talking about people’s experience in restoring relationships with the land, restoring relationships between people. That is very valuable for our humanity. I owe a tremendous depth of gratitude to my ancestors who lived in this place that is very beautiful, but rugged. Our people were so focused on the strength of their community, and the strength of future generations, that they kept going.
On Indigenous methodologies
In the last 20 years, there’s been a real shift to try to bring in more Indigenous people [to the academic sphere]. But we can’t attract more Indigenous people, or do more work with Indigenous communities, if we keep using the same methods or methodologies; if we don’t take the time to establish good relationships; if we don’t recognize that Indigenous nations are actually sovereign; if we don’t value Indigenous knowledge in the same way that we value, say, climate modelling. So we’re understanding that there are parallel systems of knowing and doing.
On making change
Transforming universities and systems is incredibly difficult work and we do it because we absolutely love our communities. We love our students, and we are so eager for this transformation to happen because there’s so much at stake. Universities understand how precious a resource Indigenous scholars are, but the structures are not changing fast enough. We need more Indigenous people in these places and I’m hoping the structures will shift at the same time and become more accepting and better places overall.
– Interview by Sophie Price