Aspiring community changemaker values experiential learning at SFU
By Diane Luckow
A member of the Cayuga Nation from Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, Jonathan Boron grew up with with first-hand knowledge of the struggle Indigenous communities experience in regaining rights to their territories. That’s why he wanted to study environmental law.
Instead, however, the new alumnus is graduating this month with a master of resource management from SFU’s Faculty of Environment and has won a dean’s graduate scholarship worth $84,000 to continue with a PhD over four years.
“I want to focus my research on helping to solve resource development issues,” says Boron, who abandoned environmental law to develop more community-engaged career options through SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management.
For his master’s project he worked with the Skeetchestn Indian Band near Kamloops to discover how resource development royalties flow back into Indigenous and rural communities. He found this experiential learning invaluable.
“I wasn’t just learning stuff in a book,” he says. “When I held my first community meeting with the Skeetchestn leadership I realized they didn’t have much interest in what I was researching. That was my error—not engaging with them early on to discover what they were interested in.”
For his PhD, he hopes to work alongside a First Nation in northern B.C. whose interests align with his ongoing research into self-governance, self-determination and community consent in Indigenous and rural communities.
“I like the idea that the research I’m doing will result in positive change,” he says. “It’s work the community wants done, and I’m able to do some of the heavy lifting for them.
“It’s a really interesting correlation between research and community—the research is not just sitting on a bookshelf. You can see it in action.”
He sees his PhD program as the natural stepping stone to a career as a consultant to First Nations communities, whether in community planning or negotiating resource development projects.
“I’m optimistic that the PhD will open doors,” he says. “While doing my thesis research I’ll have a real opportunity to network with communities in B.C. and really understand what issues they’re facing and hopefully help provide some solutions.”
- Graduate convocation medalists
- Undergraduate convocation medalists
- Student convocation speakers 2018
- SFU honorary degrees celebrate inspiring and innovative leaders
- Top academic honours don't rule out engagement in research and community
- Medal is best "show and tell" for teacher
- Perfecting balance between academic and community work earns Governor General's Silver Medal
- Undergraduate Shrum medalist leapfrogs directly to MD/Phd program
- Aspiring community changemaker values experiential learning at SFU
- Medical tourism research reveals health inequities facing local populations in Mexico
- Mathematical interest and hard work creates medal-winning formula
- Compassion key to engaging the world
- PhD research sheds light on aging with HIV
- At 24, SFU alumnus simultaneously completes two graduate degrees
- Second PhD enhances job success
- Lifelong learning leads to new career
- Passion and courage trounce adversity
- Entrepreneurial education helps duo shape tomorrow's cities
- Alumni making a difference in our community
- Experiential learning, in all its guises, generates job offers
- A board game to inspire decolonizing practices
- Watch Spring Convocation ceremonies live