SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards - Starlit Simon

Author: Andrea

Posted on Feb 8, 2023

Category: Student Stories , Money Matters

Profile of: Starlit Simon

Award Received:  SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship

 Awarded for the project: Exploring Two-Eyed Seeing (Etuaptmumk) Through Art Production to Facilitate Healing with Mi’kmaq Youth in Digital and Physical Spaces

 Faculty: Education

 Project supervised by:  Dr. Casey Burkholder

What might it look like to explore healing from intergenerational trauma with Mi’kmaq youth using a Two-Eyed Seeing guiding principle? This research explores this using anti-oppressive land-based art production with Mi’kmaq language tied in while simultaneously utilizing public discourse and engagement in physical and digital spaces.

Learning traditional art methods using materials from the land while integrating Mi’kmaw language teachings could be what reconnects and rebuilds what has been taken from Mi’kmaq youth by way of colonization.  Utilizing social media as a method of engagement and social discourse gives power and voice back to Indigenous youth to be advocates and collaborative leaders in discussions that push back against oppressive and colonial structures and policies that negatively impact their lives.

The two-eyed seeing framework for this research would utilize the traditional lens and worldview by encouraging land-based art and Mi’kmaq language.  It would utilize in tandem a western lens of encouraging dialogue, engagement, and dissemination of information in digital spaces.  The intention is to activate all four quadrants of healing to make a person feel whole: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.

The study seeks to make visible the knowledge and artful ways of representing resilience with youth for youth in Mi’kma’ki (The Land of the Mi’kmaq.) Through art production and disseminating the work on social media, the knowledge gained from the project may be scaled up in other territories in the country currently known as Canada—urgently needed in response to the recommendations and release of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.

Having worked at UNB, advising and teaching, I began to understand the diversity of supports Indigenous youth are looking for in their efforts to heal, understand and unpack the ongoing effects of colonization on them and their communities. The Mi’kmaw language class I taught was anchored in land-based and experiential learning.  My students reported that they were finding a sense of healing by learning the culture and art forms on the land and with their hands, alongside lessons of the Mi’kmaw language.  It is this work I did at UNB that prompted me to further explore healing through the theoretical framework of Two Eyed Seeing also known as Etuaptmumk in the Mi’kmaw language.