Paul Sylvestre

Doctor of Philosophy (ABD)

Biography: Paul is a white settler who has been raised on unceded and untreatied Algonquin territory in the Valley of the Kitchissippi. A SSHRC funded doctoral candidate in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University, Paul’s doctoral research takes as its departure point that Canadian cities are emplaced on Indigenous lands and exist within the context of Indigenous sovereignties. More specifically, this research seeks to interrogate how settlers, settler institutions, and settler urban governance structure respond or reorganize in the face of increasing assertions of Indigenous territorial sovereignties over urban space. Operating at the intersection of Indigenous Political Theory, Critical Urban Studies, Settler Colonial Studies, and Critical Race Theory this work asks not only how, by what means, and through which tools and techniques is Indigenous sovereignty deferred in urban space and how is whites settler possession maintained. Paul’s research also asks: how might the production of urban space occur otherwise. Paul continues to be fortunate in having many patient and generous teachers, guides, and mentors to support him through this work

A long time associate of the HEC lab, he has been involved in projects to identify and address anti-Indigenous racism in medical school education, as well as exploring institutional barriers to developing robust community-based participatory research programmes at Canadian universities. Prior to joining the HEC lab Paul spent summers working as a wildland fire fighter in Revelstoke British Columbia while scrambling to complete a Masters of Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University’s School for Research and Environmental Studies exploring university professors’ conceptualization of education for sustainability in order to develop institutional change strategies for Canadian universities.  Paul is currently a guest on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe in what is now known as Kingston. Trading a mountainside for an office at Queen’s has been a rough transition. For this reason, it may be easier to find Paul somewhere in the Valley of the Kitchissippi than on Queen’s campus.

Journal Publications:

  1. Castleden, H., Hart, C., Martin, D., Harper, S., Cunsolo, A., Sylvestre, P., Day, L., Steffaneli, R. (2017). Implementing Indigenous and western knowledge systems in water research and management (part 2): Interviews with collaborative teams to overcome the limitations of literature reviews to inform water policy in Canada. International Indigenous Policy Journal (In press).
  2. Castleden, H.,  Sylvestre, P., Yeung, S. (2017). “I honestly don’t think I learned anything about Indigenous peoples”: Understanding medical school preceptors’ and students’ knowledge and attitudes towards Indigenous peoples and Indigenous health. (Prepared: target journal- Medical Education)
  3. Sylvestre, P, Castleden, H., Martin, D., & McNally, M. (2017). “Thank you very much… You can leave our community now.”: geographies of responsibility, relational ethics, acts of refusal, and the conflicting requirements of academic localities in Indigenous research. ACME: A Critical E-Journal of Geography (in press)
  4. Castleden, H., Sylvestre, P., Martin, D., & McNally, M. (2015). “I don’t think that any peer review committee . . . would ever ‘get’ what I currently do”: How institutional metrics for success and merit risk perpetuating the (re)production of colonial relationships in community-based participatory research involving Indigenous Peoples in Canada. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 6(4), 1–23.
  5. Sylvestre, P., Wright, T., & Sherren, K., (2014). Exploring faculty conceptualizations of sustainability in higher education: cultural barriers to organizational change and potential resolutions. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 7(2), 223-244.
  6. Sylvestre, P., Wright, T., & Sherren, K. (2014). A tale of two (or more) sustainabilties: a Q methodology study of university professors’ perspectives on sustainable universities. Sustainability 6(3), 1521-1543.
  7. Sylvestre, P., McNeil, R., & Wright, T. (2013). From Talloires to Turin: a critical discourse analysis of declarations for sustainability in higher education. Sustainability, 5(4), 1356–1371.
  8. Castleden, H., Daley, K., Sloan Morgan, V., & Sylvestre, P. (2013). Settlers unsettled: using field schools and digital stories to transform geographies of ignorance about Indigenous peoples in Canada. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37(4), 487-499.

Publications Under Peer Review:

  1. Sylvestre, P*., Wright, T., & Sherren, K (Being revised). Institutional sustainability as a project for a green campus: a conceptual gap between SHE researchers and the lived experiences of university faculty. (Currently undergoing revisions at the request of Environmental Education Research).

 Book Chapters:

  1. Castleden, H., Daley, K., Sloan Morgan, V., & Sylvestre,. P. (2017). Settlers unsettled: using field schools and digital stories to transform geographies of ignorance about Indigenous peoples in Canada. (Accepted book chapter for upcoming edited volume: “Learning in the Field”)
  2. Sylvestre, P., & Wright, T., (2016).  Organizational change and organizational learning for promoting higher education for sustainable development. In Barth, M., Michelsen, G., Rieckmann, M., Thomas, I., (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development. (Invited contributors)

Conference Presentations:

  1. Sloan Morgan, V., Lamb, C., Sylvestre, P., Creating change from within: is it possible? CFP for the Canadian Association of Geographers May 30th – June 4th
  2. Sylvestre, P., Castleden, H., Martin, D., McNally, M., (April 18, 2016). “I don’t think that any peer review committee . . . would ever ‘get’ what I currently do”: How institutional metrics for success and merit risk perpetuating the (re)production of colonial relationships in community-based participatory research involving Indigenous Peoples in Canada. American Association of Geographers. Chicago, IL. (25 minute presentation)
  3. Castleden, H., Sylvestre, P., Martin, D., Denis, J., (November 25, 2014) “I honestly don’t think I learned anything about Aboriginal people”: Understanding medical school preceptors’ and students’ current knowledge and attitudes towards Indigenous peoples and Indigenous health. Indigenous Health Conference Toronto. ON. (30 minute workshop)
  4. Sylvestre, P., Wright, T., (November 12, 2012). Exploring faculty conceptualization of sustainable universities through the use of Q methodology. Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference. Los Angeles, CA (20 minute presentation)
  5. Sylvestre, P. (October 15, 2011), Eco-efficiency as a substrate for sustainable innovation: challenges of the rebound effect. Elizabeth May Chair conference in Environmental Science. Halifax, NS. (20 minute presentation)