Am I the Beaded Flower in Your Moccasins? Research Experiences of an Indigenous Feminist in the Labour Movement and Academia.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:07
Oral Presentation
Angele ALOOK, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Canada
As an Indigenous feminist researcher working within the labour movement, I came to ask myself: Am I a beaded flower in your moccasins? From the teachings of my Kohkom (grandmother) I came to understand the beautiful flowers she beaded onto moccasins to be a symbol of our Cree Metis heritage, a symbol of our strength and skill as Indigenous women. I’ve been invited to join several multidisciplinary research projects and grant applications within academia examining gendered experiences in the labour market, the political economy of resource extraction, Indigenous land rights, and Indigenous sovereignty over economic development. One day leaving a meeting with academics, I began to ask myself whether I was just a cheap version of decorative flowers in the commercially produced moccasins worn by white academics. I began to question whether my years of experience as a labour expert were actually appreciated, or whether I merely fit their quota for including Indigenous scholarship in their grants. I returned to my office at the union, where I realized maybe I was a beaded flower in the moccasins worn by activists, and they appreciated my strengths as a social justice researcher and Indigenous feminist. This personal reflective essay will examine the challenges of practicing Indigenous feminism in my research within academia and activism, and my struggles with thinking of myself as a beaded flower. Is my inclusion on these research projects a symbol of the strength of Indigenous womanhood or am I just a token whose voice will inevitably be silenced? I am currently on two multi-year SSHRC funded research projects, Just Powers and the Corporate Mapping Project These projects are very welcoming to my Indigenous feminist approach. In this essay, I will also reflect on the journey I took to find these respectful allies to work with in academia.