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School of Indigenous Relations Tenure Track Faculty Look Forward to Future at Laurentian

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Community, creativity, and kinship priorities for newly appointed tenure-track profs

Adria Kurchina-Tyson, Nicole Wemigwans, and Sharlene Webkamigad become faculty members at Laurentian University. – Photo supplied

SUDBURY (January 11, 2024) – Becoming a faculty member at Laurentian University is a dream realized for Adria Kurchina-Tyson, Nicole Wemigwans, and Sharlene Webkamigad. As their academic journeys evolve, so too do their dreams. With PhDs nearing completion, the professors are looking ahead at the ways they intend to make an impression on the Laurentian community as newly appointed tenure-track faculty.

Professor Adria Kurchina-Tyson grew up in Sudbury with roots in Shebahonaning and knew they always wanted to study in the community where they grew up. So when they decided to stay in academia as a researcher and professor, they knew it would be at Laurentian. Now they most look forward to working increasingly with Master’s students.

“I have been consistently blown away by the Master’s students I work with at Laurentian. The students are brilliant and I’m so excited for the expansion and regrowth of Indigenous Relations in new courses.”

Professor Nicole Wemigwans is from Serpent River First Nation and Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. She has worked extensively in community-based programs over the past decade, and is inspired by that work, her prized roles of mom and auntie, and her love of her community. Wemigwans looks forward to engaging with students and empowering them with culturally-appropriate skills and knowledge that will help them be effective practitioners in their field.

“I enjoy having discussions with future social workers to understand the work that they do within Indigenous communities. Through this discourse, I believe we can increase safety for our kin in Indigenous communities.”

Professor Sharlene Webkamigad, originally from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, has a passion for research that started back in 2004 when she began her undergrad. As a tenure-track professor, Webkamigad is eager to continue this important research and work collaboratively with students and colleagues.

“Creative and alternative ways of learning were an integral part of my experience as a graduate student here at Laurentian. As a professor, I look forward to exploring the same methods in the courses I teach,” she says. “I’m excited to put proposals together on a national level and to collaborate on research that finds solutions to some of the structural barriers Indigenous peoples face when accessing culturally-safe and holistic health care.”

The professors’ areas of academic focus vary, from gender and sexuality, to kinship and nation-building, to nursing and healthcare, but they are united in their passion for their communities and their drive to contribute to the future of Laurentian.

“I want to be a part of and help contribute to the growth of Indigenous Studies and Indigenous faculty at Laurentian,” says Kurchina-Tyson.

The professors have a shared belief that the continued inclusion of Indigenous and First Nations perspectives across programs is essential to the university’s identity and is inherently valuable to prospective faculty and students all over the world.

What does it mean for these Indigenous and First Nations academics to teach at a school that prioritizes a tri-cultural mandate?

“For me, it is everything. Being surrounded by a team of Indigenous staff and faculty is a strength,” says Webkamigad.

She says that applying culturally-safe principles to break down structural barriers in the healthcare field is an endeavour that can make a positive impact in communities everywhere.

Kurchina-Tyson is enthusiastic about the invaluable integration of Indigeneity in academia at Laurentian.

“Decolonization efforts are on the increase as a whole. There are Indigenous peoples all over the world and anti-colonial movements all over the world, which makes the Indigenization at Laurentian alluring to folks all over the world. Laurentian has the unique opportunity to be a leader in decolonial scholarship.”

Dr. Taima Moeke-Pickering, Interim Director, School of Indigenous Relations, says the professors’ passion for teaching, research, and culture fit right in at the school.

“Professor Kurchina-Tyson, Dr. Wemigwans, and Professor Webkamigad bring an incredible wealth of experience with them to their roles. The addition of intelligent and dynamic Anishinaabe kwewok and Two-Spirit folks as tenure-track faculty at Laurentian enriches the experiences of students, the quality of research, and the Laurentian community as a whole.”

About Laurentian University (Akinomaagegamik):
Laurentian University serves over 8,000 students on its campus in Sudbury, Ontario, and is one of two bilingual universities in the province of Ontario. Committed to its bilingual, tri-cultural mandate, Laurentian University offers an outstanding university experience in English and French with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education.

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Sabrina Desjardins
Communications Officer
Laurentian University
E-mail: Communications@laurentian.ca

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