Indigenous Research

Indigenous Led Research at Lakehead

Picture of Lana RayCan you tell me about yourself?
I am from Opwaaganasiniing (Red Rock Indian Band) and a member of the muskellunge clan. I have a PhD in Indigenous Studies and I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Indigenous Learning at Lakehead University.

What is Indigenous Learning?
Indigenous Learning is a recognized discipline which engages with Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing to address issues in Indigenous and non-Indigenous contexts. It also focuses on the historical and contemporary interactions between Indigenous peoples and the state.

What do you do as an Assistant Professor?
Most of my time is spent teaching and researching. I have taught courses related to community development, governance, gender relations, Indigenous storytelling and research methods. Currently I lead two research projects. One seeks to improve Indigenous health equity through the development of health service provider training and systems level change and in the other project an Indigenous health framework was created to support program development, implementation and evaluation. The framework is based on Indigenous teachings, stories and personal experience with land-based activities.

Does teaching and research differ in Indigenous contexts?
I think so. I try to privilege Indigenous ways of knowing. This can be more specific like storytelling and land-based experiential learning. For example, in much of my research I don’t draw from western theories but instead I look to our own theories -our stories. I also bring these stories into the classroom to help us as a class envision alternatives to western approaches to child welfare, justice or environmental policy.
I think we can also think of Indigenous ways of knowing more broadly, including values such as respect, sharing and cooperation which foster good relationships. In the classroom I try to create a space where we learn from and support one another and enact these values. Colonialism worked to decentre these values from our communities which results in lateral violence. This feeds a colonial agenda and redirects our time and energy away from efforts to rebuild our governance systems and social institutions and relearn our languages, cultures and traditions. When we work together and support each other, there is so much power in that.

Is the program popular amongst Indigenous women?
Yes, most of the Indigenous Learning majors are Indigenous women. Taking the program is a stop along their journey to strengthen their families, communities and nations. Indigenous women in the program want to become policy analysts, researchers, lawyers, educators and share what they learn in the program with their families and communities.

Call for Nominations: Indigenous Partnership Research Award 2020




Lakehead University holds an annual Research and Innovation Week. This year’s event will take place from Friday, February 28 through Thursday, March 5, 2020.

The Office of Aboriginal Initiatives would like to celebrate the partnerships between Lakehead University researchers and Indigenous communities and organizations by offering an annual award for Indigenous Partnership Research. In the past, research has often been on Indigenous people(s), rather than with Indigenous people(s). Lakehead University believes that research partnerships that benefit both the researcher(s) and the Indigenous community are most likely to lead to more productive relationships with and improved conditions for Indigenous communities.?

The Lakehead University Indigenous Partnership Research Award will be jointly awarded to a Lakehead University researcher or research team and a representative from their Indigenous partner(s), be it an individual, community or organization. The award consists of framed certificate and a $500 cheque, one for researchers and one for the Indigenous partner.

The award will be decided by a committee under the auspices of the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives and the Ogimaawin Aboriginal Governance Council (O-AGC). Members will include the Vice-Provost Aboriginal Initiatives (or designate), the Vice-President Research and Innovation (or designate), an OAGC representative, an Indigenous student and an Indigenous faculty member.


  • A research project underway or completed in which a researcher or research team and an Indigenous person, community(ies) or organization(s), through a collaborative process, have demonstrated an improvement in the state of knowledge of the research community and improved conditions for Indigenous people.
  • If the nominee is an individual researcher they must be a Lakehead University faculty member; if the nominee is a research team, then at least one member of the team must be a Lakehead University faculty member who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the research project.

Nomination Procedure

The attached nomination form must be completed, accompanied by letters from: 1) the nominator stating why the research project has been nominated, highlighting the positive outcomes of the research partnership; 2) the researcher or a Lakehead representative of the research team who is a part of the project describing the outcomes of the research partnership; 3) from the Indigenous partner describing the benefits of the research project; and 4) at least one additional letter of reference from individuals or groups knowledgeable about the research project, explaining why they support the nomination. Self-nominations are welcomed.

Deadline & Award Dates

Nomination and supporting letters must be received no later than January 31, 2020. Announcement of the award will be made during Research and Innovation week. The award winners will be invited to make a public presentation about the project during Research and Innovation week.

Selection Criteria

Consideration will be given to research projects, which demonstrate:

  • A key role for Indigenous individual/community/organization input into the research;
  • Mutually beneficial outcomes for researcher(s) and Indigenous partner(s);
  • A contribution to the education of Indigenous students; and
  • Unique dissemination of research results that take into account individual/community needs.

For further information about the award itself, please contact:

Ms. Denise Baxter, Vice-Provost (Aboriginal Initiatives), Tel: 807-766-7177; Email:

Please submit nomination form, nomination letters and supporting letters to:

Administrative Assistant, Office of Aboriginal Initiatives, Tel: 807-766-7219; Fax: 807-343-8679; Email:

Click here?to download the Indigenous Partnership Research Award Nomination Form (PDF)