Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

The Story of the Indigenous Postdoc

By Claire Scruby - Dec 09, 2021

Dr. Jackson Pind holds the role of the first post-doctoral fellow of Indigenous Education at Queen’s Faculty of Education. Jackson is from the wolf clan. His ancestral roots are in Alderville First Nation, where his great-great grandfather served as Chief from 1905-1909. His grandfather is a member of Alderville First Nation, but Jackson considers himself to be a mixed Settler-Anishinaabe educator as he is originally from Peterborough, Ontario (place at the foot of the rapids) and currently lives on Sydenham Lake, near Kingston, Ontario.

Pind graduated from high school in 2011. Throughout his four years of high school, he did not hear, nor learn about, residential schools. In conversation, Jackson shares that Residential Schools have since been included in high school curriculum and that Indigenous peoples' presence within the education sector has played a key role towards this inclusive shift. It was not until his first year at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, when he first heard about Residential Schools.

Education at its very best is transformative. Today we are seeing the value of inclusion in schools. Students see themselves in the classroom. This occurs through various ways, and forms, such as Indigenous peoples' presence delivering course content, or on reading lists. It was the inclusion of Indigenous peoples within Jackson’s courses at university that led him to start to explore his own family history. Initially, he was mainly told about this history through the European lens. After taking more Indigenous courses, his interest in exploring Indigenous topics grew further. Jackson graduated with a BA in history in 2015, the same year that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Final Report was released. This extensive document inspired him; he could see his own family history within it.  Jackson found that the TRC report made multiple references to the Alderville Residential School in Canada. This school was notably one of the first Residential Schools in Canada and was used as a test case by the federal government to expand the system throughout the entire country. This realization furthered his inspiration for his chosen field of study and his work became more personal.

There were a number of colliding elements that brought Jackson to this post-doctoral fellowship, but it was ultimately the culmination of the TRC report that was the most moving in his educational trajectory. He was determined to learn more about what was behind the pages of this document. After completing both his undergraduate degree and Master of History at Laurentian, Jackson came to Queen’s University for his PhD in Education with a focus on Indian Day Schools. When Jackson began his PhD, the topic of Indian Day Schools was under-researched and it afforded an important connection with Jackson’s family background. Throughout his graduate studies Jackson continued to broaden his interests and further explore this intersection. A critical piece of the Calls to Action is that all Canadians are called to action. It is not some of us who ought to do the work of reconciliation, it is every single Canadian. The postdoctoral fellowship in Indigenous education is deeply rooted in the idea of furthering the Calls to Action and the Faculty’s broader efforts towards reconciliation and education. We want; we need and we have a responsibility to do undertake this work.

Jackson felt a calling to Kingston as the Indigenous peoples of Alderville were the original inhabitants of Kingston, Ontario. The newly created Manidoo Ogitigan (Spirit Garden) in Lake Ontario Park has been dedicated to Alderville and its connection to Kingston. The forcible removal of the original First Peoples in this area occurred in the 1840s and Jackson describes that he wanted to come back to this place not necessarily as a reclaiming, but as someone offering to add to the conversation. 

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Dr. Theodore Christou, Jackson’s PhD supervisor, and a key administrator in creating this role reflects: “You need to invest in community, if you want community. You need to invest in reconciliation, if you want reconciliation. You need to invest in decolonizing, if you want decolonization.” The Faculty created this post-doctoral fellowship as part of their commitment to supporting reconciliation and creating pathways for Indigenous students. Christou notes, “The engagement with Indigenous research and Indigenous graduate learning is as important as anything else we are doing. It is not auxiliary, it is at the very core of who we are as a public Faculty of Education … on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples.”

Engagement in community is emphasized in the post-doctoral fellowship and Jackson takes an active approach to this aspect of his role, providing workshops and training on Indigenous research methodologies and ways of knowing, including running Indigenous graduate workshops such as Indigenous community-based research, Indigenous data sovereignty, building research communities, preparing for Indigenous conferences and more. These workshops are open to the public and are meant to foster public conversations about the public good. Jackson also provides support to teachers concerning Indigenous topics in the local Limestone District School Board. This post-doctoral fellowship represents a commitment not only to Indigenous research, but also to grow who we are, as a community.

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Claire Scruby is a student in the Queen's University Concurrent Education Program, now in her final year of study. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree with a Major in Global Development at Queen's University. Claire is currently in the Indigenous Teacher Education Program, focusing on the teachables of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies, as well as French as a Second Language. Through her paternal grandmother, Claire has ancestral roots with the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation.