Dr. Deborah Simmons
Adjunct Professor, Natural Resources Institute
phone 867-669-2092 x224
Where I grew up in Denendeh (the Northwest Territories), indigenous peoples are more than half the population and there are 11 official indigenous languages. My earliest bush learning in the 1960s was with Shúhtagot’ı̨nę, Mountain Dene of the Mackenzie Mountains in what is now the Sahtu Region. After a brief stint with the Native Press in 1981, I left the North to pursue cross-disciplinary academic interests at the intersections of political economy, critical and post-colonial theory, social history and literature. Returning to Denendeh in 1999, I began a new phase of learning in community-based indigenous knowledge research – with the Sahtu Land Use Planning Board, then the Délı̨nę Uranium Team.
Since 2006, I’ve been Principal Investigator with the Délı̨nę Knowledge Project on a program in stories, mapping, governance with key themes in health and climate change that has come to be known as Gúlú Agot’i T’á Kǝgotsúhɂa Gha – Learning About Changes. I’ve also led a program with the five communities of the Sahtu Region entitled Ɂekwę Hé Naidé - Living With Caribou. I have learned much about indigenous research methodologies through work with an informal group of NWT Traditional Knowledge Practitioners that has met four times since 2008. Work with indigenous communities in the Athabasca oil sands has presented new challenges. The Research Team has developed Two Roads approach to research that creates space for autonomous indigenous research processes.
PhD York University 1996
Graduate Diploma, Research in Latin America and the Caribbean York University 1996
MA York University 1988
BA Mount Allison University 1983
2010 (Fall). Honour Songs and Indigenous Resistance. Review essay. Socialist Studies / Études socialistes 6,2: 173-178.
2010. Co-author, with D. McGregor and Walter Bayha. “Our Responsibility to Keep the Land Alive”: Voices of Northern Indigenous Researchers. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 8, 1: 101-123.
2007. Co-author, with K. Caine and M. Salomons. Partnerships for Social Change in the Canadian North: Revisiting the Insider–Outsider Dialectic. Development and Change 38, 3: 447–471.
2002. A Tribute to Howard Adams. Studies in Political Economy 68: 5-12.
1999. After Chiapas: Aboriginal Land and Resistance in the New North America. Canadian Journal of Native Studies 19, 1: 119-148.
Major Funded Research
2011-2018. Co-Investigator (Chris Southcott, Principal Investigator). Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Major Collaborative Research Initiative.
2009-2012. Principal Investigator. Language, Place and Governance in Déline, Northwest Territories: Monitoring Persistence and Change in the Social Economy. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Social Economy Network of Northern Canada.
2009-2012. Co-Investigator (John Sandlos, Principal Investigator). Abandoned Mines in Northern Canada: Historical Consequences and Mitigation of Current Impacts. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
2009-2010. Principal Investigator. Health Risk and Climate Change in Sahtúot'ı̨nę Stories: Envisioning Adaptions with Elders and Youth in Déline, NWT. Health Canada.
2008-2011. Principal Investigator. Building local capacity to address climate change in the Great Bear Lake Watershed. International Polar Year.
2008-2011. Principal Investigator. Biodiversity Traditional Knowledge Study. Cumulative Environmental Management Association.
2007-2010. Principal Investigator. Ɂekwę Hé Naidé - Living With Caribou. Sahtu Renewable Resources Board.
2006-2010. Principal Investigator. Language, Place and Governance in Déline, Northwest Territories: Monitoring Persistence and Change in the Social Economy. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Aboriginal Research Fund.
2005-2009. Co-Investigator (Christopher Fletcher, Principal Investigator). Cultural Models, Concepts, and Practices in Dene Health and Healing, Deline, Northwest Territories. Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
2001-2004. Principal Investigator. Délı̨nę Uranium Team Traditional Knowledge Study. Canada-Délı̨nę Uranium Table – Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
1999-2001. Principal Investigator. Building a Vision for the Land. Sahtu Land Use Planning Board, Northwest Territories.
Graduate Student Mentorship
Ingeborg Fink. In progress. A text based analysis of the Dene spatial reference system. Department of Linguistics, University of Cologne.
Sarah Gordon. In progress. PhD thesis, Health, Healing, and the Stories of the Sahtuot'ine. Department of Folklore, Indiana University.
Ta Thi Thanh Huong. 2010. PhD thesis, Sustainable Livelihoods and Resilience. Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba.
Paula Kigjugalik Hughson. 2010. Master’s thesis, Understanding the tundra landscape surrounding Aberdeen Lake, Nunavut through the eyes of an Inuit elder, John Killulark. Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba.
Elly Bonny. 2007. Master’s thesis, Involving Inuit Youth and Inuit Knowledge in the Management of Sirmilik National Park.. Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba.
Zoe Aarden. 2005. Master’s thesis, "Sexing the Indian": Scholarships' Role in the Consolidation of Colonial Structures of Gender and Sexuality, Frost Centre for Graduate Studies, Trent University.