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UTM Indigenous scholar awarded Canada Research Chair

Carla DeMarco

U of T Mississauga’s Jennifer Adese has been named a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Métis Women, Politics, and Community. With this designation she will focus her research efforts on the impacts of colonization, sexism, and racism on Métis Women.

“This CRC project will allow me to advance Indigenous research more broadly, but also to pursue a vital, yet relatively underexamined area within Métis Studies research,” says Adese, an associate professor of sociology.

“It's a very exciting opportunity to work to push the conversation in the area of Indigenous peoples’ political organizing even further,” she continues, adding it “will generate new research in the scholarly understandings of Métis women’s responses to colonization via political mobilization, and Métis women’s experiences in the context of the wider landscape of Métis activism.”

Adese will examine early-to-mid twentieth century Métis political participation, as well as Métis women’s ongoing efforts to confront their marginalization through contemporary political mobilization. This work, which scrutinizes the sexist and gendered dimensions of Métis politics, is a departure from her previous studies of Metis political organizing.

“We are so fortunate to have a scholar of Professor Adese’s calibre at UTM,” says Professor Kent Moore, UTM’s vice-principal, research.

“Her impressive research accomplishments and important work, along with this prestigious acknowledgement by the CRC program, is a great boost to Indigenous research in Canada and, more locally, on our campus where we are striving to develop a more robust Indigenous-research cluster.”

Adese, who joined the Department of Sociology at UTM in 2018, has just wrapped up two co-edited books, A People and a Nation: New Directions in Contemporary Métis Studies with Chris Andersen, and Indigenous Celebrity: Entanglements with Fame with Robert Alexander Innes, which examines a wide-ranging landscape of Indigenous conceptualizations of, and experiences with, celebrity and related forms of popular recognition. Her sole-authored book is under review with University of Manitoba Press, titled Aboriginal™, which is an analysis of the term “Aboriginal” and its more frequent usage after the 1982 Canadian Constitution Act was passed.

Last year she received funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council to pursue her project, “‘No one else can speak for us:’ Métis Women’s Political Organizing, 1970s-Present,” which explores Métis women’s mobilization and activism over the last 50 years.

Adese’s interest and what she describes as “life-changing insight” in this particular area was sparked by attending the National Aboriginal Women’s Summit (NAWS) in 2012. Witnessing firsthand the resilience of the Indigenous women strengthened her commitment to be an informed advocate to lobby for the rights of Métis and all Indigenous communities.

Adese also has a personal interest in this area: she is Métis. She draws on her culture via a large family unit that is primarily based in Alberta and she says that her relationships with other Métis people and communities provides her with a unique perspective for her work, writing and teaching.

“A lot of previous research has been undertaken and published by non-Métis, and the tendency through that work has been to analyze and discuss Métis people as simply a byproduct of the intermarriage of two other populations, broadly First Nations and European,” says Adese.

“That is not how we understand ourselves and our existence as a distinct Indigenous people, and quite often how Indigenous people represent ourselves through art, through literature, through political engagement is very different. It is through this mobilizing of new knowledge that we will be able to reach a higher ground of understanding about the ongoing impacts of colonization, dispossession, and racism.”

The Canada Research Chair Program (CRCP) was established in 2000 to fund outstanding researchers in Canada. See the full list of all the new chairs on the CRCP website.

Read more:

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  3. View to the U podcast: Métis matters in research and in Canada