April 1, 2022
Let’s Meet Alexis Miedema!
Alexis Miedema is a third-year student in the International Indigenous Studies Program
on community-based research, the kakatosiiks project w/ UCalgary Dinos and Siksika youth athletes, great INDG courses… & more!
If we asked when you were in High School what you planned to study at University what would you have told us?
When I was twelve, I attended a Political Science lecture at Brandon University with my auntie; since then, I have known that I wanted to pursue some form of politics. Hence, in High School, I would have stated that I was planning to study Political Science, but simultaneously I wanted to explore politics from an Indigenous perspective.
You have focused on Indigenous community-based research. Why do you feel that is an important area of study?
Community-based research is vital because Indigenous communities have been studied as if they were animals with no perspective or voice for too long. I wish to provide an outlet for community to be heard on a larger stage. I want to ensure that the research I do is something that community desires and not solely some notion I believe is needed. I think it is crucial that researchers who engage in community-based research inform community of their skills and ask if there is anything they can do to support community. Community-based research has to start and finish with community–they should benefit, not the researcher.
Please describe your current project?
Acting on Calls to Action 88 and 89, kakatosiiks is a mentorship project between the University of Calgary’s student-athletes and Indigenous youth from Siksika. kakatosiiks is an initiative to aid youth in developing their athletic abilities while incorporating academics and cultural traditions. Emphasizing athletics as a beneficial outlet, the project comprises student-athletes from various sports to ensure a well-rounded introduction to athletics. The student-athletes will demonstrate the importance of academics from diverse faculties and programs. kakatosiiks values Indigenous cultural education and will intertwine Blackfoot knowledges as Siksika sees fit.
Before participating, student-athletes will be educated on Indigenous truths by listening to numerous resilient Indigenous voices. Dinos Athletics hopes that the mentorships will be built on a mutual understanding of respect and responsibility by educating student-athletes. Dinos Athletics and Siksika intend for kakatosiiks to serve as an opportunity for two peoples to move forward in developing positive relationships that will last a lifetime.
How have previous courses in Indigenous studies prepared you to do this work?
All my experiences in previous Indigenous studies courses have aided my understanding of fundamental principles crucial to conducting research with Indigenous communities, including respect, relevance, responsibility, and reciprocity. In particular, courses such as INDG 303 and 305 (Indigenous Ways of Knowing I and II) with Professor Ramona Beatty and INDG 397.13 (Indigenous Research Ethics and Practice) with Dr. Adam Murray have emphasized the principle of relationality and its significance to relationship-building. My previous teachings of relationality inform how I engage in relationship-building in kakatosiiks; for I believe that in order to do this work in a good way researchers need to become part of community, be invested, and ensure that it is community who truly benefits.
How do you hope to incorporate community-based work into your future?
Since discovering a passion for Indigenous self-determination, I aim to pursue a Juris Doctor degree upon completing my undergraduate degree. After which, I hope to collaborate with First Nations communities and work towards legally obtaining sovereignty in a manner recognized by the colonial government, holding governments at all levels responsible for the promises made to Indigenous Peoples, and in doing so, giving back power to our communities.
Thanks Alexis Miedema for sharing with us!
For more on the International Indigenous Studies Program please visit the Political Science website.