Student Profile: Kyle Bobiwash Working to Indigenize Science Curriculum

June 11, 2018

Defending his doctoral thesis on May 28th, Kyle Bobiwash, PhD candidate (and now officially, Dr. Kyle Bobiwash) in the Department of Biology, describes the defense as “stressful, but fun in the end”.

With his defense behind him, Kyle had no time to rest. He had to complete his revisions and submit his thesis to the library, pack his apartment, and prepare to move to Winnipeg; where he started a new job as an Assistant Professor with the Department of Entomology in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Manitoba on June 1.

An award-winning student, Kyle looks forward to putting all of his experiences and knowledge toward the inclusion of indigenous perspectives and knowledge into his classes within his own classes and assisting others within the department to do so as well.

Hired under the University of Manitoba’s Creating Pathways to Indigenous Achievement initiative, Kyle is particularly sensitive to the excitement and challenges of his new position.

“One of the more difficult challenges with Indigenizing the hard sciences, is that the traditional, Indigenous ways knowing and methods for generating knowledge and the methods and ways of knowing developed in the hard sciences tend not to validate each other,” says Kyle. “This should actually be a more reciprocal relationship, in which they help to inform each other. They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive.”

Kyle is also looking forward to being closer to his home and family with the move to Manitoba. As a member of the Anishinaabe-Ojibwe group of Indigenous peoples of Ontario, Kyle found coming to BC for his PhD challenging. However, he found a “home away from home” in SFU’s Indigenous Student Centre (ISC).

“I used to go there almost every day. There I could talk with someone from a similar background, have a cup of tea, and be involved in some of their great programs,” notes Kyle. “It is a great community for talking and sharing, which is sometimes hard to get at SFU, particularly when you’re 300 miles from home and from a rural community.”

It was through the ISC that Kyle had heard about SFU’s Aboriginal Reconciliation Council (ARC) initiative, and he was invited to be a part of the council, and be a part of creating a framework for how SFU will move forward in its commitment to Indigenous peoples.

Kyle realizes that his involvement with the ARC initiative helped him with acquiring his new position and recommends that as a graduate student, it’s important to be involved with different groups and activities on campus.

“Depending on how involved you want to be, you can either build a sense of community and belonging, or you can actually have a say in what happens at SFU.” He continues, “For me, I didn’t realize how important my involvement in the different initiatives and particularly ARC would be until the end. It’s being involved in the little things that can have a positive effect and create change down the road.”

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