Castleden Participates in Panel Discussion on Reconciliation and Humanities and Social Science Research

HEC Lab Director Dr. Heather Castleden recently participated in a panel discussion for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS). The panel, titled, Wise Research Practices: Reconciliation and HSS Research, was monitored by Dr. Peter H. Russel (University of Toronto) and hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The panel was an interdisciplinary session that featured presentations from three leading thinkers – Dr. Margaret Kovach (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Chelsea Gabel (McMaster University), and Dr. Heather Castleden (Queen’s University) – each of whom explored how HSS scholars could ensure that their research respects and engages Indigenous perspectives and communities. The session provided insight into the current state of HSS research on Indigenous issues, with a focus on the participation of Indigenous scholars and communities; discussed Indigenous methodologies; and offered strategies for conducting respectful, mutually beneficial research with Indigenous peoples.

The HEC Lab at the CAG Conference

HEC Lab Director, Dr. Heather Castleden, along with PhD Candidate Vanessa Sloan Morgan, and Master of Arts Candidate Marc Calabretta, traveled to York University in Toronto, Ontario to engage in academic discussions regarding their respective research.

Heather Castleden chaired a round table session in which Vanessa Sloan Morgan was a participant. The session, titled, Making Space for Community: A Discussion on Community-Based Research in the Neoliberalized Academy also featured Sarah Wakefield (University of Toronto), Luisa Veronis (University of Ottawa), Jon Corbett (UBC Okanagan), and Zoe Meletis (University of Northern British Columbia).

Marc Calabretta gave a presentation titled, Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind: Documenting Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Journey to the Maa-nulth Treaty. The presentation was based on his masters research, which has focused on tracing the journey Huu-ay-aht First Nations embarked on when they began negotiating a modern treaty with B.C. and the Federal government in 1993. He engaged with community-based participatory research and feminist archival methodologies to develop an understanding of how Huu-ay-aht First Nations successfully negotiated and implemented the Maa-nulth Treaty in 2011.

New Publication in Settler Colonial Studies for Vanessa Sloan Morgan

The HEC Lab’s Vanessa Sloan Morgan had her article published in Settler Colonial Studies. Her article, titled,  Moving from rights to responsibilities: Extending Hannah Arendt’s critique of collective responsibility to the settler colonial context of Canada, is available in full at: 

Congratulations Vanessa!

Heather Castleden and colleagues receive Indigenous Mentorship Network Program Funding

HEC Lab Director, Dr. Heather Castleden, has received confirmation that two Indigenous Mentorship Network Program (IMNP) applications in which she is a project team member have received funding from CIHR. The two separate projects, led by Dr. Chantelle Richmond (Western University) and Debbie Martin (Dalhousie University) present a tremendous opportunity to undertake important research, and to continue to foster capacity growth in the Indigenous health research community.

Dr. Chantelle Richmond (Western University) – Mno Nimkodadding Geegi: We Are All Connected – Central Region. Dr. Heather Castleden: Principal Investigator.

Dr. Debbie Martin (Dalhousie University) – Wabanaki Mentorship Network – Atlantic Region. Dr. Heather Castleden: Co-investigator.

New CIHR Project Grant for Pictou Landing Native Women’s Group and Heather Castleden

The HEC Lab is proud to announce that we have received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to continue working with the Pictou Landing Native Women’s Group to develop a documentary film about our research in the A’se’k (known in English as Boat Harbour) estuary.

For the Mi’kmaq of Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN), the estuary adjacent their community, known as A’se’k and the surrounding landscape have provided them with the foods, medicines, transportation, shelter, and tools they have needed to survive and thrive since time immemorial. But for 50 years, a nearby mill has been piping its effluent directly into the waters of A’se’k and pumping its particulate matter out the stacks into the prevailing winds, which directly target PLFN.

Concerned about their children’s health, the Pictou Landing Native Women’s Group mobilized in 2010 to undertake community-based participatory health research. They were concerned for their community’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health in relation to the industrial pollution. Bringing academics in, our team has worked together since then to implement a Two-Eyed Seeing approach to research the women’s question: “Are we getting sick from Boat Harbour?”

To date we have been researching the mill’s health impacts using a number of Indigenous and western research methods to meet this goal. Throughout, we have been documenting our journey by collecting film footage for the production of a documentary film. Now we want to share our novel health-related knowledge vis-à-vis a documentary film about our integrative research. Using the film as a catalyst, we can investigate how university-based and community-based researchers across disciplines, professions, and sectors can begin to conceptualize a Two-Eyed Seeing approach in their own research in the spirit of healing and reconciliation in Indigenous health.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Pictou Landing Native Women’s Group!

Heather Castleden featured in Queen’s Gazette for her role in research program: A SHARED Future

The HEC Lab is proud to announce that Heather Castleden, researcher and director, has been featured in the Queen’s Gazette for receiving a $2 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to establish an interdisciplinary research program – article found here. The program is titled, A SHARED Future: Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future. You can find more details about the program here.

“Our Journey, Our Choice, Our Future” Research Project Welcomes Three Huu-ay-aht University Students to the Research Team!

The Queen’s University research team is delighted to welcome three Huu-ay-aht post-secondary students to join the project! Over the summer, Ayanna Clappis, Becki Nookemis, and Mikaela Petticrew will be helping with a ‘Photovoice” research project, which involves asking Huu-ay-aht citizens to take pictures and share stories about Treaty. This research will be going on from May to July in Ana’cla, Port Alberni, and Vancouver.

Ayanna will work with Jon Aarssen in Ana’cla, Becki Nookemis will work with Vanessa Sloan Morgan in Vancouver, and Mikaela Petticrew will work in Port Alberni with support from Brent Ronning (Huu-ay-aht’s Post-secondary Education Administrator). Learn more about each student below!


Ayanna Clappis                                                               

My name is Ayanna Clappis. On my mother’s side I am Huu-ay-aht and on my father’s side I am Somali. My mother, Crystal Clappis, is the daughter of Zelta Clappis and the late Chester Clappis. I am currently studying Political Science at the University of Victoria and working on a certificate in the Human Dimensions of Climate Change at the undergraduate level. Prior to this, I studied at Vancouver Island University where I began my studies in Business. In transitioning my studies, I decided to hone in on the subjects I am most passionate about- the environment and politics! By marrying the two I hope to have a solid knowledge background to reach my goal of becoming an environmental lawyer. I am a Councillor at Large for Uvic’s Native Students Union and a member of the Uvic Green Party and Students of Colour Collective. I am excited to work on this collaborative research project to document the historic modern treaty process for the Huu-ay-aht community!

Becki Nookemis 

My name is Becki Nookemis and I am a member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. My parents are Matilda Charleson from Hesquiaht First Nation and Duane Nookemis from Huu-ay-aht First Nation. I grew up in Anacla, but currently live in Nanaimo while attending Vancouver Island University. I am in the Bachelor of Arts program, majoring in Psychology and minoring in First Nation Studies. In the future I hope to work with Indigenous children and youth in some way.

Mikaela Petticrew 

My name is Mikaela Petticrew and my parents are Andrea Pettigrew and Eddie Lopez. I come from the Johnson family, which is on my mother’s side. I was born and raised in Port Alberni. I am a member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and I am excited to work on this project as I’m sure it will be an excellent experience! I am enrolled currently at North Island College where I am exploring the Psychology field. I am excited to collaborate with members of my community and learn new things about our culture during the course of this project!


The research team will be conducting a second round of Community Engagement Sessions: April 24th from 5 and 8pm in Vancouver; April 26th from 5pm and 8pm in Ana’cla, and April 27th from 5pm and 8pm in Port Alberni. Please join us to meet the incoming Huu-ay-aht Research Assistants, learn about the Photovoice projects that we hope you will participate in over the summer, get an update from the research team, and share your thoughts on Treaty implementation! Stay tuned to the Huu-ay-aht Facebook page and website for specific locations for the gatherings. As always, feel free to speak to a member of the project’s Advisory Committee or Research Team with any questions or comments. We hope to see you in April!

Huu-ay-aht Advisory Committee

  • Simon Dennis, Elder & Mainland Representative
  • Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters), Ha’wiih Council Representative
  • Wišqii (Rob Dennis Jr.), Port Alberni Representative
  • Stella Peters, Ana’cla Representative
  • Jane Peters, Ana’cla Representative
  • Mercedes Williams, Youth Representative