Dr. Sarah Nickel receives Dean's Convocation Medal

June 02, 2016

As one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dr. Sarah Nickel is being recognized with the award of the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal. On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Nickel on her outstanding achievements. 

Dr. Sarah Nickel is Tk'emlupsemc (Kamloops Secwepemc). For her doctoral dissertation: "United We Stand, Divided We Perish": Negotiating Pan-Tribal Unity in the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Sarah Nickel used oral history and archival sources to examine the history of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

Her research asks why Indigenous peoples used pan-Indigenous unity to combat settler colonialism in the late twentieth century and specifically, how unity shaped the modern Indigenous political movement through the limited, hierarchical, and heteropatriarchal political spaces offered by a provincial chiefs’ organization. She determined that the concept of pan-Indigenous unity played an important role in Indigenous politics, and despite the male-dominated nature of Indigenous politics at the time, women and grassroots people were central to shaping politics. Her work has redefined understandings of modern Indigenous politics in BC.

Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelm, her supervisor, says, "Dr. Nickel's dissertation offers important new insights that all Canadians require as we learn to live new relationships with Indigenous people in the 21st century. Her work offers important new insights into the methodologies of ethnohistorical research and makes a significant contribution to the scholarly literature."

Dr. Nickel achieved a 4.00 CGPA during her degree and received numerous awards for academics and Indigenous community engagement, including a SSHRC doctoral award, Aboriginal Community Engagement Award, and President’s PhD Scholarship.

She has published and presented on oral history, Indigenous sovereignty, Indigenous Women’s politics, and the #OccupyINAC movement in Oral History Forum, BC Studies, and Active History.

She is also co-editing a collection on Indigenous Feminisms with the University of Manitoba Press and is working on her first manuscript to be published by UBC Press.

She says, "I was fortunate to join a program where faculty and peers challenged and enriched me as a person and as a scholar. Dr. Kelm went beyond the call of duty to provide guidance and encouragement, and I could not have asked for a better mentor."

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