Thompson Rivers University

Fostering Indigenous research through a Secwépemc lens

June 5, 2024

TRU alum Cara Basil speaks to the crowd at a conference jointly held by Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc and TRU's Office of the Vice-President Research. A new role just established at TRU aims to enhance Indigenous research, including connections with First Nations communities.

TRU aims to strengthen Secwépemc perspectives with additional support for Indigenous faculty and student research initiatives

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is honouring Secwépemc methodologies and relationships through the newly created position of the S7extekékstmen.

The role of the S7extekékstmen is in keeping with TRU’s strategic research goals to support Indigenous-led research, and further illustrates the university’s dedication to fostering an environment where Secwépemc culture and knowledge are recognized and celebrated.

Skísestn (Skeetchestn Indian Band) Elder, the late Daniel Calhoun, shared the word and its meaning with Ted Gottfriedson, TRU’s Secwépemc cultural advisor. “S7extekékstmen is a person who is a necessary part of a team, project or any activity; a successful outcome is predicated on the knowledge and effectiveness of this person — indispensable.”

This new role demonstrates TRU’s commitment to advancing truth, reconciliation and rights. The S7extekékstmen will strengthen community ties and ensure Secwépemc perspectives are woven into the fabric of TRU’s research initiatives. It also involves building relationships and creating engagement with internal and external Indigenous communities, fostering a network of mutual respect and collaboration.

“This position addresses the gap of Indigenous inclusion within research and supports research initiatives within communities, not on communities,” said Tina Matthew, executive director of the Office of Indigenous Education. “The focus is on respectful research, led and informed by the community. There should be no research about us without us.”

The S7extekékstmen also plays a multifaceted role in enriching the university’s academic and cultural landscape. Working within the Office of the Vice-President Research, and closely with the Office of Indigenous Education, this role involves supporting and co-ordinating the implementation of Indigenous research considerations, ensuring that the research process respects and integrates Secwépemc values.

“All My Relations research centre is an excellent example of work that exemplifies the impact of Indigenous research at TRU,” said Matthew. “Dr. Rod McCormick (director of All My Relations) collaborates and builds strong relationships with our Secwépemc community and other Indigenous communities globally.”

Research and resource development are crucial roles for the S7extekékstmen. This includes advancing the knowledge of Indigenous peoples, specifically the Secwépemc, and developing strategic communication and resources to promote Indigenous research methodologies.

“It’s a vehicle for integrating authentic Secwépemc ways of knowing. This perspective, often overlooked, is crucial,” said Gottfriedson. “This role will be integral to ensuring that research topics about Secwépemc and Indigenous Peoples are respectful of our knowledge, ownership and various other issues our people have long fought for.”

In addition to implementing Indigenous research considerations — ensuring the research process respects and integrates Secwépemc values — whoever fills this position will foster an environment where Secwépemc culture and knowledge are recognized and celebrated.

“It’s a good step forward for TRU to affirm that authentic, local knowledge is important,” said Gottfriedson. “The S7extekékstmen can learn from TRU researchers and our community, melding them together to have a better understanding through a Secwépemc lens.”

The S7extekékstmen role plays a part in TRU’s mission, values and change goals, as well as the university’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“I think the opportunities and the potentials are limitless for this new position,” said Gottfriedson. “If candidates are grounded in Secwépemc ways of knowing, language and culture, they will have a good understanding of what the position entails.”

Listen to an audio recording of S7extekékstmen pronunciation.

View the job posting.

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