Research Profile: Nicole Muir

November 12, 2013

SFU is proud to award our second Graduate Aboriginal Entrance Master's Scholarship to Nicole Muir, a member of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.

Nicole Muir says, “I received my B.Ed. many years ago but never really wanted to work in a classroom. I worked in the social services field for over 15 years doing various front line jobs across Canada such as FASD resource worker, youth worker and Traditional Counselor at an Aboriginal Health Unit. A few years ago, I worked as a Family Home Visitor at an Aboriginal Child Protection agency where I helped to support Aboriginal families to keep their children at home. This was when I realized that I wanted to work specifically with Aboriginal children who were in foster care.”

Three years ago, Nicole quit her job and went back to York University to study psychology. For her Honour’s Thesis, she interviewed two Elders and a Grandmother on traditional Aboriginal child rearing practices. Her research goal is to investigate and address gaps in clinical care for Aboriginal children who are in the foster care system. It's a goal that addresses a dire need as so many Aboriginal children in Canada are currently in foster care. Nicole feels that mainstream assessment tools might not be capturing healthy Aboriginal parenting practices. She says she is "really interested in talking to the children and youth themselves to learn about what the children want and need while they are in foster care because this has not been done."

Because Nicole has knowledge of both traditional Aboriginal healing methods and western research in mental health and parenting, she will work to build bridges between Aboriginal children and youth in foster care and the current mainstream services. One of her previous supervisors commented that "I think that Nicole has the potential to make a major difference in bridging the gaps between academia and Aboriginal community needs."

Nicole will be studying with Dr. Ronald Roesch in the Department of Psychology, where they have a strong clinical program. Nicole feels that working with Dr. Roesch in the forensic stream really adds depth to her area of study because so many decisions about Aboriginal children and youth are made in the court system.

Dr. Roesch commented that he was delighted that Nicole accepted our offer to pursue her graduate studies at SFU. He says, “I have no doubt that her research focus on Aboriginal youth in foster care will inform practices for better serving these young people.”

Nicole adds, "I’m really interested in doing pragmatic research with the support and guidance of the Aboriginal community that focuses on strengths because much of the research that has been done in the past with Aboriginal communities has been deficit based."  

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