Indigenous Peoples Knowledges and Rights Commission of the IGU

Indigenous Peoples Speciality Group of the Association of American Geographers

Indigenous Issues Study Group of the Institute of Australian Geographers

Indigenous People's Working Group of the Canadian Association of Geographers

Research Ethics
A Source Guide to Conducting Research with Indigenous Peoples


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IPWG Officials

Chair, Dr. Monica E. Mulrennan

Monica was born and raised in Ireland. She attended University College Dublin where she completed her B.A (hons) and Ph.D. before moving to Australia in 1990 to take up a post-doctoral research position at the University of Wollongong (NSW). A year later Monica joined the Australian National University (ANU) initially as a Post-doctoral Fellow and then as a Research Fellow. In 1993 she was awarded an NSERC International Post-doctoral Fellowship, tenured at McGill University. She joined the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University in 1994 and served as Associate Dean, Student Affairs in the School of Graduate Studies from 2005 to 2008.

A physical geographer by training, Monica's research interests focus on indigenous peoples and their use and management of coastal and marine environments. More specifically she is interested in local ecological knowledge, community-based management, protected area development, human adaptations to environmental change, and small boat fisheries development.

She has worked closely with Torres Strait Islanders (northern Queensland) since the early 1990s, initially as Coordinator of their Marine Strategy for Torres Strait (MaSTS) and more recently, in collaboration with Colin Scott (Anthropology, McGill University) in the documentation of local knowledge, marine resource use and Islander sea claims. She is a member of the McGill Wemindji Protected Area Project (http://www.wemindjiprotectedarea.org) which is a research partnership with the James Bay Cree community of Wemindji (northern Quebec) focused on the establishment of culturally-appropriate protected areas on significant portions of their traditional territory.

Monica teaches courses in Canadian Environmental Issues, Indigenous Resource Management, Environmental Management and Community-Based Conservation. She has served as Chair of the IPWG since June 2009.

IPWG Treasurer, Dr. Sonia Wesche

Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Sonia worked and studied in a number of places before returning in November 2009 to her hometown. She is currently working as a Senior Research Officer in the Métis Centre of the National Aboriginal Health Organization (www.naho.ca). She is dedicated to engaging in meaningful research relationships with local communities, and is interested in issues relating to environmental change, adaptive capacity, food security, and the social determinants of health.

Sonia's academic background includes studies at the University of Ottawa (BA Honours Environmental Studies & Geography), Imperial College London (MSc Environmental Technology/Ecological Management), Wilfrid Laurier University (PhD Geography & Resource Management), and the University of Northern British Columbia (Postdoctoral research in Community Health Sciences/Aboriginal Environmental Health).

Her interests fall broadly within the area of human-environment interactions. Her initiation into indigenous, community-based research occurred during an undergraduate field course in Ecuador, which subsequently led to doctoral and postdoctoral work with First Nations in the Canadian Arctic. Her research in community-based ecotourism (BA), ecology and climate change (MSc), and Aboriginal resource management and environmental change (PhD) led her to recognize that human health is central to many of these issues, and a primary concern for residents (by dani holland). In 2008-09 she took the opportunity to work more explicitly from a health perspective with Laurie Chan at UNBC, where she focused on food security in Arctic communities.

The knowledge and skills Sonia developed through these varied experiences have led to her current position, where she is engaging with Métis communities and organizations on issues related to the social determinants of health. Their objectives include capacity-building, influencing policy development, building public awareness, and improving understandings of Métis health and well-being.

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