Creating Accessible Pathways to the Heart: Researchers as Indigenous “Story-Catchers”; A Decolonized Approach to Studying Relationships and Disability (Session 3A)
Main Topic: Indigenous Knowledge, Perspectives, and Approaches
Session Type: Talk Story
Research on disabilities across disciplines and sub-fields can benefit from the use of Indigenous ontologies, such as storytelling, in research that emphasizes community engagement. Further, the “ethical spaces” (Ermine, 2007) generated through storytelling in community-engaged research promote opportunities for different worldviews to communicate. In this talk story session, we will explore how knowledge exchange and transmission through Indigenous storytelling offers opportunities for genuine decolonization and partnership-based researcher/participant relationships. To concretize our discussion, we will use the example of storytelling in doing research with Indigenous persons who live with disabilities. In presenting our example, we will propose that providing inclusive spaces for research—as enabled by storytelling—can generate more fruitful knowledge translation than has typically occurred in academic contexts. To further develop our case for the importance of Indigenous Knowledge paradigms and storytelling in studying disabilities, we will examine how researchers become “story-catchers,” and how “a researcher’s job is to facilitate the sharing and interpretation of data in story form, in a way that recognizes the stories’ need to be heard and acknowledged as worthy data” (Knudson and Bird-Naytowhow, 2021). This discussion is intended to address the conference’s theme of “Indigenous Knowledge, Perspectives, and Approaches,” and provide an opportunity to compare story-catching with Hawaiian talk story. We will propose that research on disabilities must respect the validity of “grey material” that is not typically included in academic work but seen as worthy data in Indigenous epistemologies (e.g. sweatlodges, round dances, and talking circles). Characterizing the researcher as a story-catcher elicits a positive obligation to seek out genuine partnering with Indigenous communities in developing long-term research methodologies that generate valuable data while fully involving Indigenous participants and perspectives. Drawing from our research on people living with HIV/AIDS and their experiences of disability, we will also consider how story-catching can be a valuable approach for understanding and decolonizing the study of “stigma layering” (i.e. experiences of stigma generated through individuals’ intersections of disability and other socio-demographic positions). At the end of this session, we intend that participants will see how story-catching assists in decolonizing the process of gathering and interpreting empirical data on experiences of disability. Our talk story will also provide participants with an opportunity to discuss how story-catching is inclusive of Indigenous perspectives in all facets of a potential research project.
At the end of this session, we intend that participants will see how story-catching assists in decolonizing the process of gathering and interpreting empirical data on experiences of disability. Our talk story will also provide participants with an opportunity to discuss how story-catching is inclusive of Indigenous perspectives in all facets of a potential research project.
Keywords: decolonization, story-catchers, disability, Indigenous
Tamara PearlUniversity of Saskatchewan - PhD (candidate)
University of Saskatchewan
Tamara (Baldhead) Pearl is a Nēhiyaw iskwew (Plains-Cree woman) from One Arrow First Nation in Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at the University of Saskatchewan and works as a Publications Research Officer at the Indigenous Law Centre at the College of Law, University of Saskatchewan. Along with her greatest joy of raising her daughter, Tamara also volunteers in the community, including as a board member for Haven Family Connections (formerly the Saskatoon Crisis Nursery). Her main research interests include how to Indigenize and decolonize research methodologies in community engagement. Tamara has spent many years as a colleague in various community projects, and continues to significantly contribute as an author to peer-reviewed publications from her own Nēhiyaw iskwew lens. Before entering her LLM (Masters of Law) program in 2017, Tamara worked full time as the Executive Assistant to one of the Commissioners at the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Tamara has her LLM, Juris Doctor in Law (JD), but also has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Anthropology and Archaeology, where she continues to volunteer her time in support of Indigenizing heritage initiatives.
Dr. Sarah Knudson St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan - Associate Professor of SociologyDr. Sarah KnudsonSt. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan - Associate Professor of Sociology
St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan
Sarah Knudson is an Associate Professor of Sociology at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan. She teaches in the areas of families and research methods, and also enjoys the challenge of teaching introductory sociology. Her main research focus is partnering and intimate relationships across the life course, and she is also interested in young adults’ goal-setting and transition to independence. She is a strong supporter of research that works in partnership with communities, and has conducted research within the public school system on special education and life transitions curriculum and planning. Her current research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.