Introducing Dr. Dara Kelly, CERi Researcher-in-Residence

April 05, 2022

By Grey Nguyen


We’re pleased to announce Dr. Dara Kelly has joined CERi as a Researcher-in- Residence from September 2021 to April 2022.

Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Business at the SFU Beedie School of Business. She teaches in the Executive MBA in Indigenous Business and Leadership Program and Indigenous business environments. Kelly, who comes from the Leq’á:mel First Nation, part of the Stó:lō Coast Salish  is focused on research in the field of the Indigenous community leadership, economy, and business.

 “What I was seeing in most of the literature reviews did not reflect what I’ve felt and experienced within my own family and community regarding how leadership experience is taught or how it is passed down through generations and families. This became the approach that I took into the study of the Indigenous community,” she said.

For Kelly, it is important to lift the Indigenous voice that is often missing in current narratives. “We want to hear more from the Indigenous perspective rather than what is being portrayed by the mainstream industry”, she explained.

“A lot of our knowledge has been preserved in interesting methods – oral history culture, for example. What I am interested in is how that knowledge becomes relevant again today,” said Kelly.

“Although the modern-day economy with Indigenous businesses or Indigenous entrepreneurs is doing fascinating and great things over the country, they are also finding interesting ways to bring that old knowledge – what has been passing down through families - and bring it back to life.”

Kelly, with four other Indigenous researchers, is working with SFU RADIUS on The Indigenous Business Story Project – a project to tell the story of Indigenous entrepreneurs and to conduct business cases with a different approach regarding Indigenous business that can be used in the MBA classroom but also in non-academic contexts.

“There’s a longstanding approach to cases that we teach in the MBA classroom due to the widely recognized Harvard Business case model. However, that doesn’t always work with the Indigenous method of teaching and learning. What we want to do is to write our cases that align better with Indigenous knowledge structures,” explained Kelly.

“For example, instead of addressing a story in the third-person voice, we are writing cases using a first-person narrative as it gives a sense that the entrepreneur herself is telling you the story. It is a different method of engagement, but it certainly allows her to drive her narrative and share the important components of business development beyond a money-making story.”

Kelly sees community-engaged research as an experiential process. She hopes through her current residency at CERi that she will not only grow and motivate other Indigenous scholars, but also provide more research opportunities to other students, and share her passion for research and knowledge with diverse communities.

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