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Kathleen Absolon Indigenous Research Methodologist + Education

“First you must unlearn what you think you know, to learn what you need to know”

Empowering others to move from Research to “Re-search”; renowned Research Specialist, multi-published author, and trailblazing Academic, Dr. Kathleen Absolon is challenging the world to Reimagine Higher Education. With a Masters of Social Work and Phd in Education, she is a multiple award recipient including the Professional, Academic and University Service Award from Wilfrid Laurier University. Braiding and weaving world views, Kathleen emboldens the academic world to disrupt systems and to expand the circle to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing.

An Anishinaabe woman from Flying Post First Nation, Dr. Kathleen Absolon’s journey has been one of unlearning, healing, and re-learning to discover who she was as an Indigenous woman. Her Anishinaabe name is Minogiizhigokwe, which translates to mean Shining Day Woman—the one who brings goodness & beauty to the day. She grew up close to the land and her deep relationship with the land informs her work today. Her family are survivors of the Indian Residential School system. She is a kookum (grandmother) and community knowledge carrier.

Her life has been a process of reclaiming her Indigenous identity and healing from colonial trauma, She acknowledges many traditional knowledge keepers and Elders who shared their knowledge with her. She is now a knowledge carrier herself. In her social work practice, she has worked with communities, as a program manager for B’saanibamaadsiwin Native Mental Health Program in Muskoka Parry Sound. Through her accumulated lived experiences and knowledge, she has become a leader and has a pivotal role in academia—generating Indigenous centered programming and Indigenizing the growing academic communities in Canada and transforming communities worldwide.

After receiving a Masters in Social Work, Dr. Absolon went on to become an assistant professor at various universities across Canada, where her work was focused on building wholistic Indigenous knowledge and research methodologies in social work. Notably, she helped to design decentralized, community-based Indigenous social work programs to a number of Indigenous territories across British Columbia and Ontario.

In 2008, she earned her PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Currently, she is a full professor in the Indigenous Field of Study, MSW Program at Wilfrid Laurier University and is the Director of the Centre for Indigegogy: an Indigenous centred wholistic development and training centre. Transforming the educational experience Dr. Absolon’s approach to teaching and learning is steeped in Indigenous knowledge, ceremony, circle work, and in the presence of medicines.

Continuing to include community, Dr. Absolon has committed her work in education and social work practices to restoring and re-centering Indigenous peoples’ past, present, and future experiences.

  •  

    Re-Search: Indigenous Re-search Methodologies

    The existing structures of research methodologies are tired and outdated. If we ever hope to see progressive change in this world, we must adapt our process of research to re-search. In this eye-opening presentation, Dr. Kathy Absolon guides audiences in understanding the critical ethics and protocols of working with Indigenous communities. By addressing common issues around meaning-making and traces the origins of colonial research trauma, she is paving the pathway to decolonized research methods. In breaking down the barriers of Western perspectives, Absolon instills audiences with the life-changing tools to re-center and restore methods of Indigenous knowledge production.

    In this presentation, audiences will learn to:

    • Distinguish colonial issues in mainstream research methods and systems of meaning
    • Restore Indigenous ways of coming to know
    • Discover crucial tools for decolonization

    Wholistic Theory: Indigenous Healing Practices

    Indigenous wholistic theory is a multifaceted approach to health and well-being--it involves the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical elements of our existence. In this presentation, Dr. Absolon uses a wholistic framework to inspire audiences to bring these four elements together in order to lead a well-rounded and socially responsible lifestyle. By deepening the relationships between these elements and our individual and collective selves, Absolon demonstrates the powerful gifts that Indigenous ways of knowing bring to understanding our realities and experiences.

    Join Dr. Kathy Absolon in this presentation to:

    • Discover the benefits of a “Wholistic knowledge bundle”
    • Develop an understanding of wholism in Indigenous contexts
    • Unlock ways to implement the teachings of the Medicine Wheel within day-to-day life

    Connections to the Land

    Generation after generation, Western societies continue to lose their connections to nature. For Indigenous communities, the land has long been an ultimate source of life that provides healing, kinship, sustainability, and teachings of reciprocity. In this session, Absolon bridges these two worlds to show audiences the true value in restoring our relationship with the land.

    Audiences will discover:

    • An introduction to Indigenous ways of knowing
    • Powerful possibilities of listening to and learning from the world around us
    • Essential tools for protecting the land

    Decolonization: Waking Up from the “Colonial Coma”

    Drawing upon Indigenous worldviews and her own experiences, Kathy is dedicated to unpacking the perverse effects of colonialism and reconstructing perceptions of Indigenous identity and history. An impassioned educator, she understands the pivotal role that education plays in waking the world up from its “colonial coma”, the effects of which negatively impact the spirit, mind, and body. Join Kathy in this session as she lights the path to recognizing the subconscious internalization of colonial beliefs and values within your organization, spaces, and conversations.

    Audiences will discover: 

    • How we have internalized colonial ideologies without knowing
    • The ways in which colonial constructs and systems limit us, within and beyond social and cultural proportions
    • How to become familiar with the discomfort that the journey to decolonization brings

    Coming Full Circle: A History of Colonialism in Canada

    In this presentation, Dr. Kathy Absolon takes us through the misrepresented history of Indigenous colonization in Canada: the upheaval from contact with settlers, the rapid prevalence of Christianity, and the influence of European history. Through detailed storytelling and reflections, Kathy enlightens audiences with a bird’s eye view of colonialism in Canada and illustrates the connections in our shared history. 

    This presentation will include: 

    • The legacy of social injustices imposed upon Indigenous communities and their origins
    • An historical account of Indigenous societies
    • An understanding of the domino effect of colonization

    A Personal Journey: Growing Up in the Bush and Navigating the Academy

    Reflecting on her experiences growing up in the bush, Kathy shares her compelling stories of resilience, resistance, and identity reclamation. In this moving presentation, audiences will be inspired by Kathy’s tenacious journey to heal from acts of colonialism and internalized oppression she has faced throughout her life. Her metamorphic teachings of finding your voice will instill audiences with the tools for overcoming constructed barriers and challenging experiences.

    Join Kathy in this presentation to:

    • Discover ways to establish vision and find your inner strength
    • Explore the differences between proactive versus reactive means of asserting our voices
    • Conquer the need for belonging and learn to nurture the self from within 
  • Awards and Highlights

    Honoured guest and speaker, "Kaandossiwin, How we come to know." First Nations House, University of Victoria (2013)

    Instructor Teaching Award, First Nations Technical Institute / Ryerson University. (2010

    Trudeau Foundation Scholarship Nominee. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Department of Adult Education, University of Toronto (2004)

    Eagle Feather Recipient: from the First Nations communities during time as Program Coordinator at B’saanibamaadsiwin Native Mental Health (2003)

  • Client List:

    Lakehead University: Indigegogy, Teaching and Learning Week (2020)

    Ontario Native Women’s Conference: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, Strength & Hope (2020)

    Wilfrid Laurier University: Youth Leadership Symposium (2020)

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation: Kina Anishinaabe Kaandossiwin: Indigegogy, Best Practices in Indigenous Education Forum for Language and Literacy (2019) 

    University of Toronto: Holistic Healing Book Launch, Author Panelist (2019) 

    Camosun College: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, Strength & Hope, Orange Shirt Day (2019)

    Canadian Association of Social Work Education: Holistic Healing, CASWE Conference (2019)

    University of British Columbia: Spirit of the Land. Returning to a land based consciousness, (2019)

    Indigenous Leadership at Banff Centre: Advancing Indigenous education panelist (2019)

    Indigenous Literacy Association Conference: Indigenous Spirituality, (2019)

    University of Ottawa: Building Wholism into Teaching with Indigegogy, Kesarwani Lecture Series (2018)

    Delaware Nation Community Centre: Keynote speaker, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Cultural Awareness Workshop (2018)

    Wilfred Laurier University: Looking Back & Moving Forward, Canada 150: Legacies in Social Welfare in Canada Conference (2017)

    St. Michaels Hospital: Health Isn’t Just About Health: A wholistic perspective, Centre for Clinical Ethic Annual Conference (2017)

    Canadian History of Education Association: For the Teaching Nation?: Histories of education and Politics of Commemoration (2016)

    University of Alberta: Kaandossiwin, honouring how we as Indigenous searchers mobilize our worldviews into the academy (2015)

    University of Victoria: Honouring our truth in the academy: A journey of recovery and reclaiming, Indigenous Scholarship in Canada (2015)

    Canadian Association for Social Work Education Conference: Culturally based Indigenous social work education: A model in practice, (2012)

An Anishinaabe woman from Flying Post First Nation, Dr. Kathleen Absolon’s journey has been one of unlearning, healing, and re-learning to discover who she was as an Indigenous woman. Her Anishinaabe name is Minogiizhigokwe, which translates to mean Shining Day Woman—the one who brings goodness & beauty to the day. She grew up close to the land and her deep relationship with the land informs her work today. Her family are survivors of the Indian Residential School system. She is a kookum (grandmother) and community knowledge carrier.

Her life has been a process of reclaiming her Indigenous identity and healing from colonial trauma, She acknowledges many traditional knowledge keepers and Elders who shared their knowledge with her. She is now a knowledge carrier herself. In her social work practice, she has worked with communities, as a program manager for B’saanibamaadsiwin Native Mental Health Program in Muskoka Parry Sound. Through her accumulated lived experiences and knowledge, she has become a leader and has a pivotal role in academia—generating Indigenous centered programming and Indigenizing the growing academic communities in Canada and transforming communities worldwide.

After receiving a Masters in Social Work, Dr. Absolon went on to become an assistant professor at various universities across Canada, where her work was focused on building wholistic Indigenous knowledge and research methodologies in social work. Notably, she helped to design decentralized, community-based Indigenous social work programs to a number of Indigenous territories across British Columbia and Ontario.

In 2008, she earned her PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Currently, she is a full professor in the Indigenous Field of Study, MSW Program at Wilfrid Laurier University and is the Director of the Centre for Indigegogy: an Indigenous centred wholistic development and training centre. Transforming the educational experience Dr. Absolon’s approach to teaching and learning is steeped in Indigenous knowledge, ceremony, circle work, and in the presence of medicines.

Continuing to include community, Dr. Absolon has committed her work in education and social work practices to restoring and re-centering Indigenous peoples’ past, present, and future experiences.

Speaker Summary

Location: Canada

Language: English

Website: Click Here

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