- Email: Samantha
- Personal site:
I am a second year Master of Resource Management (Planning) candidate with the Food Systems Lab based out of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Applied Animal Biology with the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia with aspirations of becoming a veterinarian, and quickly realized my interests were held in community-engaged research that encourages collaboration and shared goals of improving animal welfare and reducing environmental impacts. My background allows me to view the world through a scientific lens encompassing food security, animal welfare, human-animal relationships, wildlife conservation, and sustainability. I am passionate about building climate and food resilient communities by ensuring community, ecological, and cultural needs are placed at the forefront.
Supervisor: Dr. Tammara Soma
What inspired your current research topic?
My research is a total win-win situation: I adore photography and hold personal and academic interests in food security and community-engaged research, so I eagerly grasped at the opportunity to collaborate with the Kitselas First Nation on a food asset mapping project that utilizes Photovoice, a qualitative method that encompasses photography and storytelling. This work will disrupt the traditional academic and participant paradigm through a citizen-science approach, empowering participants to identify and advocate for their own needs. Employing a socially innovative and novel framework such as Photovoice can help advance a systemic and sustainable solution for tackling food insecurity. Through Photovoice, citizen scientists can identify determinants and risk factors that affect local food security, while also connecting with their community and contributing to a shared body of practice and research that builds upon our food system knowledge and collective impact.
Why do you think this topic is important?
Food asset mapping conducted by planners usually consists of a spreadsheet and a web map identifying the locations of supermarkets, restaurants, and food banks – features of the built environment. There is a an apparent disconnect between how food asset maps are created and how these maps actually serve the communities they are created for. Food asset mapping has generally failed to include racialized and informal spaces, peoples’ lived experiences, and the natural environment – the contextual information. The absence of these consideration limits the applicability of traditional food asset maps.
Treating Indigenous knowledge as expertise that contributes to theory instead of as data for Western science can improve our collective understanding of the metaphysical relationships that shape local food security. This diverse approach to sharing knowledge will contribute to the creation of context-rich food asset maps while raising the public profile of food insecurity to allow for the preservation of local knowledge and oral stories for food system resilience. Consequently, a collaborative approach that centres Indigenous experience can help pave the way forward for more innovative, just, and inclusive planning, research, and reconciliatory approaches.
How will the Chad Day Graduate Fellowship, Simons Foundation Award, CERi Graduate Fellowship help you achieve your research goals?
I am grateful to receive funding support through the Chad Day Graduate Fellowship, the Simons Foundation Award, and the Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) Graduate Fellowship. Being a selected recipient for these awards further confirms the importance of the collaborative work I am a part of, and helps alleviate personal and academic financial obligations to allow me to put my best effort forward for this research.