First Nations Studies

New Faculty Profile: June Scudeler, First Nations Studies and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies

September 19, 2018

Dr. June Scudeler is a Métis scholar who knows what it's like to work hard to achieve your dreams. She is the newest assistant professor with SFU’s Department of First Nations Studies, cross-appointed with the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

Scudeler completed both her BA and MA in English at SFU, and then received her PhD from UBC. Her doctoral research focused on Cree Two Spirit, gay and queer narratives.

Her current research focuses on Indigenous Gothic, horror and science fiction film and literature. She uses Indigenous ways of knowing to analyze queer Indigeneity in Indigenous film, literature, and art. As a Métis person with Cree ancestry, Scudeler uses Cree values like wâhktôwin or kinship, and miyo-wicêhtowin or expanding the circle, as the foundation of her methodologies. She is using wâhktôwin and miyo-wicêhtowin to see how Indigenous ways of knowing work within non-Indigenous film, examining the third season of the zombie TV series Fear the Walking Dead and the Australian zombie film Cargo.

She says, “I’m currently writing a proposal for a book about Swampy Cree artist and filmmaker Kent Monkman. While Monkman has garnered considerable critical attention, my book will be the first to use Cree ways of knowing to delve deeper into his work.”

Scudeler currently has an entry on queer Indigenous studies for the Cambridge Handbook of Queer Studies under review. She is also co-editor of Studies in American Indian Literature.

In her new appointment, Scudeler says she is thrilled to be contributing to the meaningful, path-clearing research being undertaken in both the departments of First Nations Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She’s particularly excited to continue her teaching and work with both Indigenous students and students willing to respectfully broaden their knowledge about Indigenous peoples.

Her path to this new role was not easy, and she faced many stumbling blocks that made her feel less than accepted as a woman in academia. She had many supporters along the way, including the now-retired settler-scholar Dr. Margery Fee at UBC.

She says, "I was fortunate to have such attentive supervision from someone who understood the support I needed as a first generation Indigenous student. Margery is a wonderful friend and now colleague.”

That support and care she received during her graduate work has influenced her own approach to teaching and mentorship and she says she aims to create a “comfortable space” in her classroom rather than a “safe space”—something that is a near-impossibility when teaching content that references the traumatic history and ongoing violence caused by colonialism.

“Teaching First Nations Studies is challenging because you have Indigenous students and some non-Indigenous students engaging with difficult, emotionally challenging content that like residential schools or missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls…I try to enact what I call a kitchen table pedagogy, having everyone sitting around a kitchen table where everyone has different life experiences but we are all equal.”